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Symphony messaging app gets DLP, Microsoft integration

The Symphony messaging app now has native data loss prevention and integrates with Microsoft Office. The startup is looking to expand beyond its base in the financial sector.

The Symphony messaging app now includes native data loss prevention to help businesses stop employees from sharing confidential information with the wrong people. Meanwhile, new integrations with Microsoft Office should broaden the app's appeal beyond its niche in the financial sector.

Symphony's data loss prevention automatically scans attachments and metadata in real time to ensure that what a company shares does not violate its compliance or privacy policies. Symphony's setup lets businesses decrypt and scan the data on premises, rather than in the cloud.

The vendor has natively embedded the service into its platform, giving it a leg up over competitors like Slack and Cisco Webex Teams, which rely on third-party services and APIs to offer similar protection.

Symphony's focus on security has attracted 350 businesses -- mostly banks and financial firms -- since its launch in 2014. Unlike many competitors in the team collaboration market, the Symphony messaging app provides end-to-end encryption that lets customers store their encryption keys on hardware in their data centers.

Cisco provides a similar level of encryption for Webex Teams, but Slack only encrypts data in transit and at rest, which means the information may get decrypted at certain routing points in the cloud. Slack recently said it would give large customers control over encryption keys, but store them in the public cloud.

Still, Symphony is a much smaller player in the collaboration market than Slack or Cisco. Slack is used by 500,000 organizations worldwide, while Cisco has more than 130 million Webex users (although the vendor hasn't said how many people use Webex Teams). Symphony is hoping to expand its footprint as businesses become more concerned about the security features of cloud apps.

"[Symphony has] remained active only within several verticals, but I believe the tide is turning, and more organizations are becoming aware of the relevance of secure and private collaboration," said Raúl Castañón-Martínez, analyst at 451 Research. "Together with the product updates recently announced, this trend will help Symphony accelerate adoption."

Symphony messaging app integrates with Microsoft Office

The Symphony messaging app now integrates with Microsoft Office applications such as Outlook, Word and PowerPoint. The vendor built the connections using Microsoft's open APIs.

The integrations let users chat, meet and screen share within the Microsoft productivity suite. One tool lets users escalate a group email exchange into a Symphony group chat with one click. Symphony also synced its presence feature with Outlook, so that users can see if the colleague they are about to email has signed into Symphony.

David Gurle, the founder and CEO of Symphony, said in an interview that the Microsoft integration should help the vendor expand its footprint within the user bases of existing customers.

Today, Symphony is used mostly by people that work directly with financial markets and sensitive customer data, such as asset managers and security traders, Gurle said. The vendor is now making a play to get the IT, legal, operations and HR departments within those same firms to start using the product.

Symphony is also looking to expand into other regulated verticals such as accounting, insurance and government, Gurle said.

However, Symphony may struggle to attract attention in the crowded team collaboration market unless it develops features and use cases that appeal to more than just financial firms, said Wayne Kurtzman, analyst at IDC.

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