• United States
by Steve Taylor and Larry Hettick

Why we like IM

Jun 16, 20032 mins
Messaging AppsNetworking

* The benefits of instant messaging

Steve and Larry are big-time advocates of instant messaging, or IM.

So are a growing number of enterprise users. According to an Osterman Research survey published last year, more than 80% of enterprise users take advantage of some of instant messaging’s benefits:

Instant messaging services like those offered by AOL, Yahoo and Microsoft provide a desktop “buddy list” that shows who has logged on to the network – offering a cheap (as in free) way to verify another user’s presence at their desk.

If you want to get in touch quickly, IM offers a “chat” service, and allows users another way to communicate quickly. If you are logged on and don’t want to be disturbed or are away from your desk, simply create a temporary message on your personal IM “reply” screen so other users know you aren’t available or where you can be reached.

Instant messaging also features attachments and document forwarding, just like e-mail. Also like e-mail, instant messages offer the opportunity for introducing viruses into a corporate network – a major concern for IT managers and one big reason IM isn’t being used officially by 100% of workers. Some IT managers have barred IM from their corporate network.

Instant messaging services are also beginning to be used to provide a “click to talk” feature, allowing users to initiate a phone call across the instant messaging network. Steve and Larry aren’t as keen on this feature (yet) as our limited personal trials haven’t been too successful.

We believe instant messaging is here to stay as an enterprise communications tool. One way we’re sure of our belief is that unified communications portal providers are including instant messaging as one of the integrated communications options on the desktop, offering some advantages from today’s stand-alone instant messaging services.

Next time, we’ll discuss how SIP and SIMPLE can be used to integrate instant messaging with traditional phone systems.