Discord Started With Gaming, but It Might Just Sneak Up on Enterprise Apps
A little less enterprisey than Slack. A little more structured than Clubhouse. It’s just right.
In 2007, when BlackBerry was still the leader in the enterprise mobile space, a new competitor launched an irresistibly sleek touch-screen smartphone that epitomized the marriage of art and science. (Yes, we’re talking about the iPhone’s debut). BlackBerry executives scoffed at the seemingly pretentious device, which they thought would only appeal to consumers seeking mindless escape on YouTube and who possibly couldn’t care less about BlackBerry’s inner beauty — its relentless focus on security and its efficient, almost miserly, use of network bandwidth. BlackBerry’s bet was on what it called the “prosumer,” or the professional consumer.
Apple, however, changed the rules of the game by breaking down the barrier between enterprise and personal mobile devices. It partnered with AT&T to make data usage an expectation, not a limitation. In the workforce, employees enamored by the iPhone began requesting it to be used as their enterprise phones. BYOD (bring your own device) soon entered our vernacular. Consumers increasingly gravitated towards the iPhone, and enterprises followed.
As Mike Lazaridis, founder and then CEO of BlackBerry, later acknowledged, “Conservation didn’t matter. Battery life didn’t matter. Cost didn’t matter. That’s their genius. We had to respond in a way that was completely different than what people expected.”
Similar to the iPhone’s early days, Discord currently occupies a sweet spot between the enterprise and consumer-facing communities with its Slack-like interface combined with open voice-room features popularized by Clubhouse. What’s driving the chat startup’s sudden intrigue in corporate America? For starters, the pandemic showed us what it looks like when our professional and personal worlds share the same space, and it has led to an irreversible, albeit uncomfortable consolidation of virtual, digital spaces. The virtual collaboration space is already experiencing an amalgamation of sorts, most recently with Slack rolling out a feature that lets users privately message employees outside of their company. While it’s designed for companies…