Building—or at least improving—the integration of collaborative tools with enterprise applications will be among the greatest challenges facing companies in the coming year.
One of the biggest issues will be getting the most out of e-mail and IM (instant messaging). Both face critical shortcomings as gateways to the security threats of spam and viruses, and e-mail is losing relevance due to an overwhelming amount of spam and the growing use of IM.
Gartner Inc. estimates that it will be 2005 before IM overtakes e-mail in number of messages, but 2004 will be the year that corporate IM platforms gain traction. To lay a solid foundation for future and increased IM applications, companies need to evaluate ways to secure IM against inappropriate usage and prevent it from becoming a conduit for viruses and other security breaches.
The collaborative team applications, from team work spaces to Web conferencing, continue to fall short as far as exploiting how people work. With users locked in to their messaging and collaboration client, be it Microsofts Outlook or IBMs Lotus Notes, the individual tools used to manage productivity, contacts, schedules and tasks frequently dont align well with team applications residing on the Web.
Although some gains have been made recently in aligning tasks and calendars with Outlook and Notes, information invariably flows one way—to the client. Microsofts .Net is providing the means for companies to better manage the flow of information in both directions. In the next year, expect to see collaborative applications work better with Outlook so that calendars and tasks synchronize with information in collaborative applications.
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