• United States

IM as a portal

May 27, 20042 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMessaging Apps

* Instant-messaging platforms could be the portals of the future

The history of communications and computing is characterized by ever-increasing integration and mobility.

Telephones evolved from hardwired handsets to short-range wireless handsets to clunky cell phones to small cell phones. E-mail evolved from simple text-only communications into file transport systems – integrated with corporate directories, calendaring, scheduling, task management and instant messaging (IM). Personal computers evolved from the desktop to the suitcase to the notebook to the PDA. Cell phones and PDAs have further converged into single platforms, and so on.

The convergence of formerly disparate communications media into unified platforms, coupled with the increasing mobility of these platforms, will very likely have a significant impact on both e-mail and IM.

I believe the enterprise e-mail client of the future may actually be an IM-based portal that provides users with an interface to e-mail and a variety of corporate applications. The early stages of this can be seen in today’s consumer-grade IM clients. MSN Messenger, for example, provides the ability to instant-message with others, and it offers file-transport capabilities. It also acts as a portal to stock quotes, traffic reports, news, airline reservations, shopping and other services. For an enterprise user, it’s not much of a stretch to imagine an IM interface to all corporate applications, such as e-mail, IM, an enterprise directory, a corporate benefits system, inventory control systems, information repositories, and so forth.

There are two advantages to the IM portal approach. First, a single interface would make life much simpler for application developers and users alike, much like Windows simplified the world for developers who could write their applications to a common platform and for users who now had a single interface to master. Second, an IM portal would make mobility that much easier, since most current IM interfaces are already readily adaptable to handheld platforms. Spam control might even be easier in an IM-centric world.

I’d like to get your thoughts on the potential for the e-mail/IM/file transport/application interface tool of the future to be an IM-based portal. Please drop me a line at