Instant messaging use at work soars

Although the technology was initially intended for the consumer market, it is now increasingly being adopted by business users. However, researcher IDC said vendors will have to work hard to convince managers that the technology has a place in the enterprise.

IDC analyst Robert Mahowald said the major barriers to instant messaging growth include staid IT departments, and competing technologies such as wireless email devices and unified messaging.

But despite the barriers, IDC says that several factors will help IM to thrive. An estimated two trillion messages will be sent worldwide by consumers and business users by 2004, according to IDC. Collaboration technology developers are embedding IM functions such as presence awareness and availability controls into their products.

In addition, availability controls are being integrated into the IM interface, allowing users to find the most effective way to use the application during their working day.

‘As a collaborative medium, email is the dominant paradigm,’ said Mahowald. ‘Looking solely at user migration from email to IM may be missing the point. For IM to succeed as a business collaboration tool, it will need to find a place to comfortably augment email – not replace it.’

Mahowald believes that successful IM vendors will be those that are agile enough to adapt to the rapid development of the technology.

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