Seriously Chat Happy

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2001-12-03 Print this article Print

Seriously Chat Happy

So how should IT managers decide whether to standardize on an enterprise IM product, ban consumer IM altogether or take a wait-and-see approach to IM? A first step, experts say, is to determine just how much IM is being used already in your enterprise and what percentage of it is on consumer IM platforms. "Very few enterprises know how much IM is being used," Gartners Batchelder said. But if users in your business are IMing, theres a good chance theyre using a consumer-grade service, he said.

Even if you determine your enterprise has a ton of business communication going out over consumer IM platforms, it doesnt necessarily mean your only option is to permanently tear users beloved AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) out of their hands. One alternative is to audit your enterprise IM messages using a tool such as FaceTimes IM Auditor to record and log IM threads that traverse via consumer IM. Thats what Thomas Weisel Partners Hahn is testing now.

Finally, experts say, IT managers should set IM usage policies. For example, a consistent IM user-naming convention similar to that which most enterprises have put in place for e-mail should be created to ensure that corporate IM doesnt degenerate into arcane and subjective naming schemes.

At most enterprises, however, IM policies need not rule out some nonbusiness use. Pacific International Marketings Searcy recently standardized on WiredReds e/pop enterprise IM product. Fifteen produce salespeople who used to sit in one big room yelling out the fast-moving prices of lettuce now are saving time IMing news about inventory and prices. But, on days when the tamale vendor sets up shop, the usual tamale-alert messages still go out.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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