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PHOTO: Cookie the Pom on Unsplash.

Last June, Slack made a major play in the enterprise with the introduction of Slack Connect. After a private beta in several organizations, the San Francisco-based company pushed it out into general release. Connect enables Slack users to connect with up to 20 different external organizations within the same Slack channel.

Connect was much bigger than the existing shared channels feature, which only allowed two external organizations in a channel. However, despite comprehensive security across Connect there were concerns the new tool would leave organizations’ data vulnerable. Slack addressed those concerns this week with announcements about several new additions.

While there are many new features, a few stand out. Top of the list is a feature to help system administrators quickly vet external organizations before enabling them to enter a channel. Once an organization is verified it will be identified with a badge, so admins approving external channels can determine at a glance whether a new organization is credible. The result is a faster, more secure process for setting up channels for admins and users alike.

But that is not all. It is also extending the reach of its enterprise key management, or EKM, tool to give enterprises more control. Here are details:

  • Workflow Builder: This tool is already available to users and enables them to automate routine tasks without any coding. With this new option, organizations will be able to use their own encryption keys to encrypt workflows and form data.
  • Data residency: Slack already lets customers decide where data will reside, in the US or outside the US. Now it is extending this capability to EKMs. Soon businesses will be able to choose where they want their encryption keys kept, too.
  • Slack Connect encryption: Another addition to Connect will be the ability to encrypt data transferred back and forth to external organizations using an encryption key of choice.

The introduction of the new security measures is a direct response to the number of people working remotely, the Slack team wrote in a blog post. Digital transformation across previously traditional industries is happening at warp speed. Workplace technology deployment that would have taken years before the COVID-19 crisis is now happening in months or even weeks.

The result is that security has become a key digital workplace concern, especially as it looks like many people will be staying home a lot longer than originally expected. Where workers go, cybercriminals do too. In April, Google reported more than 18 million daily malware and phishing emails related to COVID-19 scams in just one week and more than 240 million daily spam messages.  

Regulated industries like banking and healthcare have been hit especially hard, with a report by VMware Carbon Black showing that attacks targeting the financial sector growing by 238% from February to April 2020.

With no signs of the pandemic tailing off, expect a lot more additions like this to Slack and other vendors like Google and Microsoft.

Zoom Integrates With Facebook, Google, Amazon

Meanwhile, San Jose, Calif.-based Zoom is also clearly anticipating a long period of remote work before things get back to normal and is looking to expand its reach as a result. The company announced its Zoom for Home offering is going to be integrated with several smart displays, including Amazon Echo Show, Portal from Facebook and Google Nest Hub Max.

Zoom for Home is a device that incorporates three wide-angle cameras and an eight-microphone array into the build for enhanced audio and visuals compared with a standard laptop or mobile Zoom meetings.

Everyone wins here. By integrating with these commonly used devices, workers will be able to use Zoom with friends and family as well as with colleagues. If all three displays are more widely associated with the consumer market than the enterprise market, the addition of Zoom for Home will also enable vendors to gain deeper traction in the digital workplace. The result is that Zoom for Home gets a wider audience while the displays of all three vendors get more enterprise exposure.

The timing could not be better. According to a recent study from Morning Consult, "Working from Home & The Future of Work," the number of adults working exclusively from home has tripled since pre-COVID, with one-third wanting to upgrade their work-from-home set-up if their company subsidized it.

Gartner has also been revisiting its figures and in a July survey found that nearly half (47%) of companies surveyed said they intend to allow employees to work remotely full time going forward. For some organizations, flex time will be the new norm, as 43% of survey respondents reported they will grant employees flex days while 42% will provide flex hours.

The addition of Zoom for Home will undoubtedly add a better calling experience to calls and meetings, but it is still not clear why any of these vendors would allow Zoom on their screens. There are a number of possibilities, including the fact that anti-trust regulators on both sides of the Atlantic are watching big tech companies and video calling is undoubtedly being scrutinized given the fact that it impacts both organizations and consumers.

Colligo Releases Content Manager for Microsoft 365

There are a couple of things to say about Canada-based Colligo after it slipped off the radar recently. The first is that in February this year, the company was taken over by Olbia Software in a deal that went largely unnoticed in the media. It has only come into focus this week, because the company is continuing its mission to provide enterprise-strength email management and document management solutions for Microsoft SharePoint with the release of a new Colligo Content Manager for Microsoft 365.

In a statement about the new release, the new CEO Tim Brady confirmed that his company Olbia bought Colligo in February. The statement also says that Colligo will continue to do what it has been doing for the past 20 years. It reads: “With new leadership, new additions to the team and more product innovation to come, Colligo is continuing to adapt to best perform in our modern world.”

For its part, he explained that the new Content Manager will act as an extension of Colligo's existing Microsoft 365 Email Management and Document Management solutions.

Colligo Email Manager for Microsoft 365 and Colligo Document Manager for Microsoft 365 help workers capture and tag files from Office applications into SharePoint with the most sophisticated metadata and label classification tools available on the market.

By layering the Content Manager module on top, Colligo users can not only capture and share links to email or document files, they can browse and view to any type of file at any SharePoint location right from within Microsoft 365.

It also seems that Colligo will keep on course and focus on making Microsoft productivity tools easier to use. There will be more from Colligo as it happens.

Claravine Brings Metadata Management to Adobe EM

Elsewhere, Lehi, Utah-based Claravine has announced that it is integrating with Adobe Experience Manager. According to the company this will provide users with a smarter way to control content metadata and tagging within Experience Manager Sites and Experience Manager Assets.

The integration addresses one of the biggest problems for enterprises going through digital transformations now, notably the inability to provide standardized content that works for all channels.

The result is that because organizations cannot develop marketing metadata across a fragmented marketing technology stack, they are unable to automate the creation and optimization of digital experiences.

The integration is in response to customer demand for better ways to track, maintain and scale metadata across large enterprises, especially those with many agencies and teams creating campaign assets.

With Claravine, users can connect to Adobe Experience Manager and quickly view and manage data about all the video, images, web pages, product offers and other assets that are part of their campaign.

Then, as Claravine standardizes the data model that is crucial for all areas of digital marketing operations, users can easily find missing metadata and synchronize it back into Adobe Experience Manager, saving teams valuable time and improving their analytics, SEO, personalization experiences and more. Existing Adobe Experience Manager customers can take advantage of this integration.

Microsoft Kills Internet Explorer

Finally, this week, while not exclusive to the digital workplace, it would be remiss of us not to mention that Microsoft is finally killing off Internet Explorer.

In a blog post, Microsoft explained that the Microsoft Teams web app will no longer support Internet Explorer 11 — the most recent and final iteration of the browser — from Nov. 30, 2020. The remaining Microsoft 365 apps and services will end support for the browser next year.

Microsoft Edge, the new browser which relies on Chromium open-source software, developed by Google for Google Chrome, will replace IE. That gives Edge more features than Internet Explorer. As way of solace to those who invested heavily in IE, the post reads:

“We understand the need to 'do more with less' in the new business environment. By the dates listed above, customers should no longer access Microsoft 365 apps and services using IE 11, but we want to be clear that IE 11 isn’t going away and that our customers’ own legacy IE 11 apps and investments will continue to work. Customers have made business-critical investments in IE 11 legacy apps and we respect that those apps are still functioning.”

There is an older version of Edge which does not use Chromium. That too will be phased out on March 9, 2021.