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When will chat tools converge?

Jan 30, 20062 mins
Messaging AppsNetworking

* Convergence for IM programs sorely needed

At last week’s Lotusphere show in Orlando, IBM/Lotus announced its latest real-time collaboration platform, which includes a new version of Sametime, new audio and video conferencing integration and connectivity with consumer instant messaging platforms from AOL and Yahoo. IBM/Lotus also announced plans to connect Lotus Sametime with Google Talk users. Conspicuous by it absence was any discussion about integration between IBM and Microsoft’s real-time messaging platforms.

In IBM/Lotus’ press release, IBM correctly noted that today’s global “speed of business has increased dramatically, which has made real-time collaboration tools a critical aspect of daily work life.” We agree with IBM that business customers “increasingly rely on tools such as IM, Web conferencing and other real-time technologies to share knowledge and quickly react to market changes and opportunities.”

We also note that enterprise IT departments frequently do not support IM because of information security concerns. However, despite the IT department’s prohibitions and/or lack of official IT support, employees continue to simultaneously use their consumer-based IM programs and their “IT official” business IM window – keeping both open at the same time.

Maybe it’s because there are multiple versions of “chat” used within an enterprise, or different version are supported by different companies, or maybe it’s because sometimes parents want to keep in touch with their children while at work and find IM a convenient, non-intrusive way to communicate. Most likely, the adoption of IM at both consumer and business levels is because we use IM to conduct business and to communicate when away for personal interaction.

We think it’s smart to integrate secure communications channels between consumer and business IM platforms until the day (if it ever comes) when all real time textual communications becomes transparent regardless of the provider. Long ago, engineers were able to connect different providers’ telephone networks globally without discriminating between business and consumer connections. Isn’t it time we did the same for chat?