Enterprise Instant Messaging Applications experience growth in SA

The growth of the enterprise instant messaging market in South Africa is being driven by the increasing adoption of unified messaging (including e-mail, instant messaging, fax and voicemail) and unified communications (unified messaging, and conferencing and collaborative applications)

September 14, 2011

Technology vendors are facing the challenge of low awareness of the soft return on instant messaging applications, limited interoperability of different vendor products as well as limited affordability of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the market. Vendors have developed strategies to offer mobile applications, cloud-based instant messaging and industry-specific solutions to SMEs, which are expected to be the driver of future market growth.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, An Overview of the Enterprise Instant Messaging Market in South Africa, finds that the market earned revenues of $1.7 million in 2010 and estimates this to reach $10.3 million in 2017.

“With booming mobile applications, instant messaging installed on advanced mobile handsets such as Blackberry, iPhone and Tablet is allowing their use as enabling devices for corporate employees to keep in constant communication, whether they are on the move or in the office building,” notes Frost & Sullivan’s ICT Industry Analyst Jiaqi Sun. “The increased mobility of instant messaging is driving market growth.”

Cloud-based instant messaging services offer SMEs a cost-effective option to use instant messaging applications. Here, the option of monthly rentals rather than the need to purchase the software has supported a lower total cost of ownership. The reduced IT spending is in line with enterprises’ strategic shift from capital expenditure (CAPEX) reduction to operational expenditure (OPEX) reduction.

“The lack of awareness about product benefits threatens to dampen market potential,” says Sun. “Besides budget constraints, decision-makers of SMEs are not yet convinced by the soft return on investments in instant messaging, such as the improvement of productivity and operating efficiency.”

The limited interoperability of different vendor products also poses a challenge.

In comparison to numerous free public applications available in the market with a large customer base, enterprise instant messaging has a very limited interoperability among vendor products and with public instant messaging applications. Hence, it cannot support enterprise communications with external stakeholders; this restrains the service uptake of enterprise instant messaging.

“Data security concerns of cloud-based offerings represent another area of concern,” cautions Sun. “Concerns over data loss and other security issues will potentially limit the uptake of cloud-based enterprise instant messaging services in strictly regulated financial services and health care industries where data protection forms the central nerve of their IT systems.

With the majority of SMEs using free public applications, instant messaging gateway applications that offer enhanced security of public instant messaging applications and improved interoperability with other publicly available applications need to be offered.

“Mobile instant messaging applications on corporate sponsored mobile handsets are expected to drive demand for enterprise instant messaging applications from SMEs as they improve the mobility of the messaging applications,” concludes Sun.

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