Is Symphony Video Conferencing’s Focus on Security Enough to Beat Slack at Its Own Game?

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The Symphony video conferencing and collaboration platform has already proved a hit on Wall Street

There’s a Wall Street elite currently trying to earn the affection of the mainstream business world. Workflow collaboration app Symphony has grown from its origins as a “Bloomberg Killer” dedicated to servicing the financial sector, to be a potential threat to Slack and Microsoft Teams in the small and medium business world.

Like its collaboration app colleagues, Symphony provides a shared platform where team members can chat, message, and video call each other within the flow of their usual working day. In the financial sector that has meant funneling in real-time data from markets across the globe, and, importantly, providing these in-house and cross-company connections across highly secure lines.

The app has already proved a hit on Wall Street by drastically undercutting the cost of rival Bloomberg. If it can maintain its high security standards while matching the functionality and flexibility of Slack and Teams, symphony video conferencing and chat could prove a similar hit in the broader business world.

After all, wouldn’t you feel better about your online business communications if you thought you had the most secure connection available?

From Goldman Sachs to the World

Symphony began life as an in-house chat platform for banking and investment giant Goldman Sachs. Motivated in part by the high subscription prices demanded by Bloomberg’s service–up to 25,000 a year–the platform was embraced by 15 leading financial institutions and, in 2014, unveiled as an uptown tool with a downtown price tag. It has since been adopted by more than 200 companies and is valued at over $1 billion.

To compete within such a tightly regulated industry, Symphony had to include industrial-strength security. As such, it now boasts end-to-end encryption (which means data can’t be touched by a third-party until it arrives at its destination)–security well beyond that offered by commercial apps, like Slack.

That level of security lends itself to expansion into areas such as healthcare and commercial banking, areas where the growth of video conferencing and digital communication will be dependent on meeting strict information regulations.  

Instead, however, Symphony’s leaders seem intent on pushing into less regulated, more plentiful markets.

Symphony Video Conferencing Security

Symphony has recently boasted that it sees itself not just as threat to Bloomberg but as a more general “email killer”…the same way Slack used to market itself. Its CEO, David Gurle, told employees the company had already begun “…kicking Slack, Skype for Business and Teams out of everywhere we compete with them”.

Using security as a calling card is certainly a powerful differentiator. Tech news is constantly filled with new online threats, from viruses that sweep through continents to cybercrime and stories of hackers taking control of thousands of webcams and making them public. That kind of environment means the first question most people will ask when installing video conferencing and digital communication equipment at work is, “Is it safe?”

Even a seemingly untouchable giant like WhatsApp has had to reassure the public that its app is safe after concerns arose.

Security could become the next big feature every business chases, and having the support of the financial world is a nice bonus for Symphony.

Symphony, Slack, or Teams?

Despite the recent fanfare, and some headline-grabbing squabbling between Slack and Microsoft, the workplace collaborations market is still very young. Symphony is barely three years old, Slack itself is only slightly older, and Microsoft Teams was unveiled less than a year ago. Last year, Google and Facebook have also entered the field.

That youth means there’s plenty of time left for a dominant platform to arise. Symphony would seem to be at a disadvantage in the broader business market because it has been hidden away as a Wall Street plaything for years, but it does seem competitive with the more commercial entrants.

Its pricing scheme is competitive with both Slack and Teams, at around $15 per month per user, and it has copied their freemium model by including a basic version at no cost. Symphony still has to prove it can accommodate as many third-party apps and add-ons as Slack without turning its service into a trudging beast, but it does currently support a small but solid stable of partners, including GitHub, Salesforce, and its core financial providers.

Ultimately, though, security is the key word for Symphony. If it can get people feeling safer in its hands than they do with other services, it is going to give Slack some serious competition.

Image Sources: Flickr CC Users Douglas LeMoine and Gustavo da Cunha Pimenta

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