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Contributing Writer

Instant messaging getting its due?

Apr 16, 20033 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsMessaging AppsSecurity

* Instant messaging finds a home in the enterprise

My former supervisor and I used to rely on instant messaging as a critical application to get our jobs done. As Web site managers, we could run through the site code together in one window and in another window comment on it in real-time using an instant messaging application. We could paste in the code we thought was errant and then help fix the problem well… instantly.

However, during that time AOL’s Instant Messenger and other such products were getting a seriously bad reputation in the workplace. It was considered “playing” during work time and was disregarded for the most part by IT as “insupportable.”

All that is starting to change. More and more IT managers are beginning to embrace instant messaging as a useful collaboration tool. Not only does it boost productivity by offering employees instant and continuous access to one another, it also allows for on-the-fly pow-wows in real time.

Some companies are using instant messaging as an alternative to overseas calls, allowing workers to connect with each other over the distances. Other companies are rolling instant messaging tools into their customer service applications, allowing for real-time question and answer sessions with clients.

No matter the use, instant messaging is gaining respect as an integral part of the enterprise and as a complement to many applications.

Companies are beginning to roll out support for instant messaging with their collaboration and other messaging platforms. For instance, Sun will next month release its instant messaging server, Sun One Instant Messaging 6.0, which is considered a critical part of the company’s real-time collaboration platform strategy.

IBM, Microsoft and Novell, as my colleague Senior Editor John Fontana reports, already have put stakes in the ground in the corporate instant messaging market. For more on his report, check out

It’s an interesting market because it is being driven by user demand. Users put the instant messaging applications on their desktops, in many instances, and used them with or without the permission and support of IT. Now, there is a top-down push from executives to put instant messaging to good use within the corporation, which is leading to the integration of instant messaging with enterprise applications.

There are still questions, however, about the security surrounding instant messaging. IT managers worry that instant messaging exposes corporations to hackers and creates vulnerabilities for intellectual property. But I expect the security market to take up the sword and help solve this issue within the year, creating locked down versions of instant messaging that allay these fears.

What do you think? Will instant messaging rule the enterprise roost? Let me know at