Tens of millions of workers today are using instant messaging (IM), and the number is projected to soon skyrocket into the hundreds of millions. To ensure more administrative control, organizations are starting to deploy enterprise instant messaging (EIM) systems, which add features like policy-based rules, logging, archiving, and encryption. IM vendors still need to achieve interoperability, though, to better enable secure and managed messaging between users and their outside customers and partners.
Administrators attending the recent CeBIT show in New York City pointed to the rising popularity of IM within the workplace. "We will definitely be moving to EIM in the near future," declared John Ignatius of AXA Rosenberg Investment Management, one of the speakers in a panel session called "Popup Productivity & Enterprise Instant Messaging."
For the time being, AXA Rosenberg has standardized on Microsoft's long-time IM product, MSN Messenger for Windows. Quite soon, though, Ignatius expects to start evaluating Microsoft's new MSN Messenger Connect for Enterprises -- formerly codenamed Greenwich -- in addition to competing EIMs.
In a Q&A session during the CeBIT panel session, network administrators from companies in the financial services, health care, and manufacturing industries all voiced strong interest in EIM. An administrator from one health care firm said his company wants to establish encrypted communications between an internal EIM system and consumers outfitted with clients for public IM, such as AOL's Instant Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger.
Meanwhile, users are suggesting future market drivers that range from wireless hotspots to integration between IM and outside applications. Another speaker at CeBIT, Paul Mueller, VP for tech services at Schneider National, foresees the day when his company's truckers will exit the highway to hook up to wireless hotspots. There, the truckers will perform file downloads from the corporate LAN, as well as engage in IM chat with co-workers over 802.11 links, according to Mueller.
Boom in Workplace IM
Analysts' statistics underscore the boom in workplace IM. In a recent survey by Nemertes Research, 73 percent of organizations said they've either already implemented IM or plan to do so within the next 12 to 18 months.
Ferris Research, moreover, estimates that IM in the enterprise will mushroom from 10 million users in mid-2002 to 180 million by 2007. Even more bullishly, the Radicati Group expects the number of corporate IM accounts to explode from 60 million in 2003 to 350 million by 2007.
Over the same time frame, Radicati anticipates the gap between consumer and corporate IM will narrow substantially. In 2003, 52 billion corporate IMs will be sent worldwide on a daily basis, compared to 530 billion consumer IMs. By 2007, the numbers will rise to 290 billion for corporate IMs and 1.09 trillion for consumer IMs, according to the analyst group.