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IM or not to IM

McNamara archive

Confession: Buzz does not instant message.

Like many workplaces, though, Network World does have pockets of instant messaging - IM in the vernacular - that have sprouted up willy-nilly and without the involvement of our IT department.

Proponents have said for years that it is only a matter of time before IM becomes a staple on corporate desktops . . . and evidence is emerging that the time may be near.

"Instant messaging has become a mission-critical business tool," says Allen Drennan, whose San Diego company WiredRed Software last week released Version 3.0 of its e/pop instant messaging suite. "Some use it more than e-mail."

(Of course, many still think of instant messaging as merely another distraction keeping their kids from doing their homework, but I digress.)

Market research firm IDC predicts corporate IM users worldwide will balloon from 5.5 million last year to more than 180 million in 2004.

Drennan believes the days of willy-nilly adoption are numbered, too.

"A lot of consumer-based IM has infiltrated corporate America and is causing a lot of problems," he says, primarily in the security arena.

In the face of such rogue use, it certainly makes sense that IT departments would examine products such as e/pop and SameTime from Lotus. How much they're willing to spend remains an open question.

The newest e/pop adds text conferencing, presence management, application sharing, strong encryption and voice-over-IP capabilities.

"We're in the beginning of a marketplace that is just learning the benefits of the technology," Drennan says.

He gave me a copy of the software to try. Who knows? Maybe it's time.

There are precious few bet-your-bottom-dollar Internet business opportunities, yet it took an act of the Nevada legislature last weekto formally pave the way for the surest of sure things: online gambling.

Of course, there remains the sticky matter of the Justice Department having declared Internet gambling illegal. But Nevada lawmakers essentially thumbed their noses at the feds, saying, in so many words: "We ain't blind . . . and we'll see ya in court."

Why not? Internet gambling has become a billion-dollar business without legal sanction in this country and without the involvement of those companies most likely to realize its true potential: casino owners.

No one whose livelihood depends on gambling dollars - in other words, every man and woman in Nevada - can afford to deny the inevitability of Internet gambling (although many in the casino industry did just that for years). Paternalistic liberals and moralizing finger-wavers can tsk-tsk all they please about the evils of wagering. But the prohibitionists have not a prayer of preventing those they can't persuade from pursuing their favorite games of chance online.

Not only is this genie out of the bottle - online gambling thrives offshore, beyond the reach of U.S. authorities - but the odds of that dynamic being altered are, oh, let's say 1 in 1,000.

They know nothing in Nevada if not odds. Which is why the state's senate last week authorized two-year Internet gambling licenses at $500,000 a pop and levied a 6% tax on gross winnings.

Anyone who doubts they'll get away with it hasn't been to Vegas since the Rat Pack was tearing up The Sands.

Free technical training? No, I'm not looking for any, or, heaven forbid, offering. Instead, I'm just beginning to do the reporting for a story about the subject that will appear in Network World's Management Strategies section in August.

You can help, too. If you have experienced or know of any free training opportunities - good ones or stinkers - please drop me a line with a few details and your take on the value proposition.

Network World thanks you in advance. The address is


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