Organizations interested in going beyond email have a new mobile messaging app to consider -- one that cuts Active Directory out of the equation.
Tangoe Inc. of Orange, Conn., best known for managed mobility services and telecom expense management offerings, has released a new mobile messaging app called inTouch. Available on Apple iOS and Google Android mobile platforms, as well as a Web portal for desktop access, inTouch is cloud-based and simple to set up.
Anyone with a corporate email address can download inTouch and send messages, files, images and videos to contacts, organize group chats and sort them by topic. Emails and voice calls can be integrated into the chat conversations and the discussions can switch between a user's devices.
Corporate information is secured using standard AES 256-bit encryption. Data is hosted on Tangoe's servers and is encrypted at rest and at the device level. Guests from outside an organization can be invited into the inTouch system with restricted levels of access.
In addition, inTouch gives IT the ability to control intracompany communication through their own corporate email domain.
InTouch ditches Active Directory
Tangoe elected not to include Active Directory integration because it found in many instances organizational Active Directory credentials were either incorrect or incomplete and include just email and no other means of contact, a Tangoe spokesperson explained.
Eric Kleinsenior mobility analyst, VDC Research Group
For some IT shops, not having that Active Directory integration could make the app less attractive and make administration of inTouch more difficult, said Eric Klein, senior mobility analyst at VDC Research Group Inc. in Natick, Mass.
"Active Directory greatly simplifies the ability to apply groups and policies to this platform," Klein said. "It surprised me [Tangoe] isn't integrating with it, but they made a pretty good argument for why not."
Other similar social collaboration platforms, such as VMware's Socialcast and Citrix's Podio, do integrate with Active Directory.
While the lack of Active Directory credentials may make IT initially hestiant, Tangoe expects inTouch's security features will assuage any fears about its readiness for the enterprise, the spokesperson said.
Mobile messaging faces tough road
Because such products look to fundamentally alter the way employees communicate, a platform like inTouch could work for small and medium-sized businesses while larger entities may want to start with a small deployment before going company-wide, Klein said.
"A big company would have to be pretty progressive to jump two-feet into something like this," Klein said.
With tools such as email, texting and free chatting services available at users' fingertips, inTouch and similar offerings, including BlackBerry Messenger, TigerText Inc. and Cotap Inc., may have a tough time gaining mass adoption.
"These things are going to take time to prove their worth and value in the enterprise," Klein said. "It all depends on how progressive and aggressive in modernizing how people communicate these companies want to be."
An advantage for inTouch is its interface, which Klein said provides easy access for messaging and is designed with simple navigation for all generations of users.
The security of a platform like inTouch also alieviates concerns IT might have about who or what may be able to access company emails, and helps users frustrated by cluttered inboxes, said Jack Gold, founder and principal analyst at J. Gold Associates LLC in Northborough, Mass.
"There's a niche here a lot of these [mobile messaging app] companies are trying to fill," Gold said. He also acknowledged that if larger companies start offering similar services, that may make it harder for smaller companies to maintain a customer base.
Two different versions of inTouch are available, one for free and the other for $2 per user, per month. The free version includes contact lists, group discussions with unlimited participants, a tap-to-call database, and the ability to invite guests and share files. The paid version offers administrative dashboards, high-level analytics and corporate branding.
Tangoe also plans to deliver an upgraded paid version for $3 per user, per month that will include more analytics, calendar integration and voice over IP capabilities.