According to a recent Gartner poll, instant messaging is used today in 70% of all companies. According to the Yankee Group, however, only 15-20% of companies operate a solution for IM administration. In the remaining 50%, IM constitutes a huge, rampant infrastructure usage that poses a severe security risk for firms. The same is true for the use of peer-to-peer services, e.g. music exchange services, which have also become pervasive in many organisations, but lack any administrative supervision whatsoever. These Peer to Peer services entail both security and legal risks.
Does my company need instant messaging?
IM is suitable for all areas where quick, immediate contact among a known and manageable group of people is crucial. As with SMS, short messages can be swapped and, for instance, a deal team can finalise and authorise the terms of an offer. Technicians helping a customer on location can send queries back to company headquarters via IM, and obtain immediate answers from customer support specialists, without their queries being buried under an avalanche of emails or suffer from constantly engaged phones. Stockbrokers can also instantly swap the latest market rumours via IM and act upon what they learn.
In companies with more complex and clearly defined workflows and processes, where flexible decision-making and coordination timed to the minute play a lesser role, it is questionable whether instant messaging is beneficial. Private chat sessions, and the constant distraction from larger tasks by incoming instant messages, can bring about a drop in productivity. A derogatory comment made by IM can be just as much of a legal problem as one made by email so there could also be exposure to potential litigation.
However, what is decisive is not the question of whether your company needs IM, as much as the answer that your company very probably already has IM without your knowledge.
If instant messaging has already taken root in a company and is popular, where’s the problem?
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