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Let There Be An Upside

Reading all the year-end wrap ups and 2006 projections for the messaging market, you'd think messaging and collaboration were a scourge rather than a productivity enhancing technology. All the reports I've seen talk about viruses and worms, phishing attacks, regulatory demands for retention, archiving and discovery, and warn of all the new problems we'll face when mobile messaging really takes off.

And after the past year, who can blame the pundits for painting such a dark picture? But still, there must be some good things to say about messaging. I mean, if these technologies were not so wide spread and gaining in popularity, we wouldn't be seeing all these issues, right? Sure, the security and compliance issues will probably mount in 2006, but aren't there other things going on of some import in this market.

OK, I know what the benefits of messaging and collaboration are to an organization, but we don't see much discussion of how new capabilities and new applications of the technology will move the needle in a positive direction 2006. In fact, when you read about great new integrated messaging systems, combining voice, text, and conferencing with real-time presence capabilities, the next sentence is usually about the all new ways that attackers will find to bring these systems to there knees or turn it into a cyber mule for carrying undesirable payloads.But there are upsides. After all, the Radicati Group tallied the 2005 sales for the messaging software market at $2.5 billion in 2005 and expects that to grow to $3.6 billion by 2009. To find those upsides, you might have to read between the lines.

When Ferris Research released its Top 10 Messaging & Collaboration Issues, 2006, eight of the 10 dealt with the usual virus/phishing/spam/compliance/support/overload issues, but there were a few bright spots. Mobile messaging, for instance, promises to further boost productivity once we get over the security and support issues of integrating it with the rest of the enterprise messaging environment.

And the notion of teamspaces is also something that could gain in popularity this year, according to Ferris. Teamspaces are collaborative, file sharing environments that allow users to create teams on the fly and provide "spaces" for collaborating on content within those spaces.

But in the also-mentioned grouping of issues from Ferris, those that didn't make the Top 10, we find things like VoIP, Wikis, RSS and search technologies. And it is the integration of these newer capabilities that could ultimately drive the messaging market.

We can throw in all the caveats about security, but the market will move forward. And moving forward means integration.

Integration is a trend that seems as old as software itself. Functionality introduced as part of an application eventually reaches down into the system and becomes an inherent part of the system software. This has been especially true with Windows as Microsoft has shrewdly used the operating system to ward off threats of competitive functionality. And it looks to be the case again with the upcoming Windows Vista release and the Windows Live technology.

What this means is that messaging and collaboration capabilities quickly become an inherent component of the applications we use. And that's not a bad thing, provided we've dealt with all the nasty issues which I'll go back to writing about in the next installment.