Your teenage kids have been glued to it for a couple of years already, but instant messaging is only now coming into its own in the workplace, as software developers devise extra-strength versions with the security and audit trail that businesses require. By delivering immediate answers to even the simplest questions—"John, are you at your desk?"—or enabling a support technician to shoot a quick IM across the office rather than get up to pay a visit, IM can do wonders for productivity.
Until now, management has viewed IM mostly as a toy for goofing off, but companies have started to realize that IM can give them a competitive edge. Some 70 percent of all enterprises will use IM in some form this year, according to market research firm Gartner. And IDC estimates that 29 percent of traffic on todays consumer networks (AOL, ICQ, MSN, and Yahoo!) is for business use.
The consumer services, however, dont offer the features—security, interoperability, archiving, auditing, encryption, authentication, and logging—that businesses need. And for some organizations, these are more than just handy extras.
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