Whats Really Wrong with

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2004-06-21 Print this article Print

the Enterprise IM Market"> According to Ben Littauer, a consultant working with Ferris Research, theres a fundamental vision problem lurking behind the obvious problem of IMs slow growth in the business market. "While many individuals within corporations use IM regularly for both business and personal reasons, corporate understanding of the IM phenomenon is still lacking," Littauer said. "Corporate managers have not yet come to grips with either the risks or benefits that come with IM." IDCs Mahowald agreed with this assessment. "CIOs and CFOs have a hard time proving its value even though anyone who uses it knows how useful it can be. Part of the problem with its market acceptance may be that with todays smaller IT staff, companies are turning a blind eye to informal corporate IM use rather than deal with managing it."

According to Radicati, businesses certainly are using IM, even if theyre not managing it. In their latest survey, Radicati found that 45 percent of corporations deploy enterprise IM for faster intra-office communications.

Instant messaging without corporate oversight, Littauer observed, is an approach fraught with problems. In a recent white paper on the market, he offered that IM conversations are not monitored or recorded, which may put an organization in noncompliance with such legal requirements as SEC regulations, HIPAA, or Sarbanes-Oxley and, since public IM client-based, file transfers are desktop-to-desktop they can elude perimeter server-based anti-virus checking.

To read more about IM and peer-to-peer security concerns, click here. It is in this niche of providing management services to public IM services that vendors such as Akonix, FaceTime Communications Inc. and IMlogic thrive. In addition to providing management services, these companies also offer IM anti-spam, anti-viral and firewall services.

So while AOL and Yahoo may be moving away from business IM, the bottom line is that there is a potentially large business IM market, analysts said. And its a market thats proved difficult for any company so far—particularly consumer-oriented companies—to make profitable.

Check out eWEEK.coms Messaging & Collaboration Center at http://messaging.eweek.com for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.

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Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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