Instant Growth for Instant Messaging

Chu: The arrival of IM in the corporate world will be in full swing for the next four years.

The Radicati Group has released a study on the state of instant messaging that forecasts escalating growth for IM usage worldwide through 2007.

According to the report, 70 percent of the corporations this consulting and market research firm interviewed are using some form of IM, but only 26 percent have standardized on a single corporate IM solution.

The report projected that the total number of active IM accounts worldwide will grow from an estimated 590 million today to more than 1.4 billion accounts in both the corporate and public sectors by 2007.

The current ratio of consumer to corporate IM accounts is almost 9 to 1. However, by 2007, that ratio will be closer to 3 to 1, according to the Radicati report.

So ready or not, the arrival of IM in the corporate world will be in full swing for the next four years, and what used to be a useful tool for keeping in touch with friends will become an effective corporate communication and collaboration medium.

Business IM is already growing by leaps and bounds, but many issues continue for many IT managers skeptical about allowing IM applications to run on their network. Chief among these are security and scalability.

Several companies are answering the call to make enterprise IM more secure, robust, scalable, and easier to manage and archive, and more vendors are likely to join this potentially lucrative fray. Currently, vendors such as Facetime Communications and IMlogic are rolling out systems that will allow businesses to embrace open IM usage on their networks, and provide a means to secure and manage it.

IMlogic is putting content filtering, spam protection, and anti-virus scanning capabilities into its latest version of IM Manager. Last week, the company announced a partnership with Network Associates to integrate McAfee security features.

Microsoft recently announced the upcoming Real-Time Communications Server will be part of the Office 2003 system, due this fall. Microsofts RTC Server will provide enterprises with a more manageable and secure IM platform than do public IM services, officials said.

Integration with Office 2003 makes sense because it will allow companies to integrate information from IM across Microsofts suite of business productivity applications.

IM is growing at a fast pace. Are you caught up? Let me know at