Snapchat-like applications coming to the office soon?

Snapchat-like applications coming to the office soon?

You’ve likely heard of Snapchat, the beloved app of teenagers (and others) for sending disappearing selfies.  And you’ve likely discounted this popular service (which sends approximately 400M photos/day) as appealing only to consumers.

But wait . . . there’s evidence that the vendor community is already developing corporate equivalents of Snapchat’s disappearing functionality that may move this type of technology into daily business use just like other applications such as instant messaging (IM).  IM moved into the corporate/enterprise space when vendors developed secure/enterprise equivalents (e.g. Jive and IBM Sametime) to overcome the perceived security risks of public IM services (e.g. Yahoo! Messenger and ICQ).

Confide is likely the first of many apps RIM professionals need to monitor.  Run by a former AOL executive (Jon Brod) and the CEO (Howard Lerman) of the location services company Yext, Confide is a text-baed iOS app in which you read a message by ‘wanding’ over it with your finger.  Check out the company’s home page to see how that works.

confide-for-iphone
Confide for iPhone Screenshot

Each message disappears after being read once – you can’t store or forward it.  And you can’t take a screen shot because a message is hidden until you ‘wand’ over it and only a limited number of characters are revealed at any one time.  Further, Confide will alert you (and the recipient) if the recipient attempts to take a screen shot.

Confide’s creators argue that “Off-the-record conversations happen all the time in the offline world — phone calls, hallway discussions, meet-ups, grabbing lunch or coffee” and their goal is to “bring this offline experience online, in a fast and efficient way.”  Also according to the app’s FAQ, they anticipate the following three primary cases for using Confide for “honest, unfiltered, off-the-record conversations”:

  1. Anytime you send an email or text saying “Confidential — don’t forward”
  2. Anytime you respond to an email or text with “I’ll call you”
  3. Anytime you say “Can you send me your personal email; I’d prefer this conversation not be on work servers”

Why was Confide developed?  Here’s what the creators say:

“We think the concept of the digital permanent record is crazy.  Why should all of our online communication be around forever, with copies of things being spewed and stored in people’s inboxes and various clouds?  Imagine if everything you ever SAID (spoken words) were stored like that and the person you said it to had a copy of it.  We think this is fundamentally broken and we set out to fix it.  We created Confide to bring off-the-record professional communication to the digital world.”

While its true that spoken words aren’t captured unless a recording is made or or someone later transcribes a record of what was said, the instantaneous deletion of digital communications used for business purposes is fraught with risk.  It will be interesting to see if apps like Confide gain traction in the corporate world and, if they do, how regulators and the courts will look upon them.

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    Sheila Taylor
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