IM Showdown in Silicon Valley

Microsoft, Yahoo! and AOL set to debate how to make those short little messages into a powerful corporate tool at Jupitermedia's Instant Messaging conference.

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Once a cool tool of the teen set, Instant Messaging has been spotted lately sporting a brand new pair of wingtips. The technology has become so widespread that it's even attracted the attention of federal communications authorities and Wall Street regulators. But even though corporate usage is skyrocketing, many firms are at a crossroads.

Helping clear the minefield is the Instant Messaging Planet Fall 2003 Conference & Expo, which is rolling into town Wednesday. The two-day event is hosted by, and Jupitermedia Corp. , the parent company of and this site, brings together some of the best cutting edge strategies in the IM sector.

This time around, IM heavyweights AOL , Microsoft , Yahoo! and now Sun Microsystems are coming to the table ready to debate real-world business and technical topics. The companies have really put on the heat of late including squawkings over patents and compatibilities between platforms.

The stakes are very high. According to J.D. Power and Associates, technologies like instant messaging are further cutting into residential long-distance calling's dominance as a communications medium.

But IM is also widely known to bring with it a myriad of security holes, if the platform used is of the public, consumer-grade variety.

Still the opportunities are there as companies battle with selecting and deploying a solution or managing workplace Instant Messaging activity.

"We see four phases of enterprise IM adoption," Akonix Systems CEO Peter Shaw told "The first two phases can be characterized as ad hoc adoption and limited deployment of partial enterprise solutions focused on logging for compliance for some select market segments. What we hear from large enterprise customers today is that they need a real-time communications management platform that provides security, control and identity management with the high-availability and scalability required to safely support enterprise IM use. They are also looking for a solution that can be easily extended to address future requirements, including managing the use of other real-time technologies and to presence-enable existing enterprise applications to improve business productivity and communications."

New panels and sessions this time around include: Legal and Regulatory Issues, How to Pick & Buy Solutions, Practical Implementation Guide, Technology Assessments, Why Some Businesses Shut Down IM, and Comparison of Product Types and Features

"When FaceTime first opened its doors in 1998, instant messaging was summarily dismissed as a child's toy," said FaceTime CTO and VP of Products Jonathan Christensen. "But we believed there was a tremendous opportunity in enabling enterprises to leverage the power of IM for a wide variety of business functions. IM has since experienced tremendous growth with all kinds of organizations now enjoying its business benefits with our IM and security management solutions in place."

The Instant Messaging Planet Fall 2003 Conference & Expo runs October 15-16 at the DoubleTree Hotel here.

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