Sunday, May 19, 2024

Enterprising the Instant Message

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According to a new study by research firm Radicati Group, most IM usage within enterprises occurs over the
free public IM networks.

In a study titled “Instant Messaging Corporate Survey, 2004-2005,” Radicati found that 76 percent of organizations
have not deployed a formal IM solution. The study surveyed 78 global corporations, which the firm said represented
861,533 users.

“We found that about half of all the corporate users we surveyed were using IM, but only about half of those
people were using a corporate IM system — one that was implemented by management,” Radicati analyst Marcel
Nienhuis told “This means there is still a significant amount of employees out there
using public IM systems, which may or may not be approved by their organization. While public IM systems can
be very useful, they are less secure and professional than corporate IM solutions.”

In Nienhuis’s opinion, most users are not aware of the potential risks that may affect IM usage.

“IT managers and senior people at the company they tend to know,” Nienhius explained. “The average user
doesn’t have much of a clue about it, they just use it and it works and for them. There is not much to think

That same basic attitude of using things because they “just work” is partially to blame for the lack of wider
acceptance and usage of formal corporate IM products, as well.

“All these people are used to using the free public IM systems, and once they get used to it, it’s not easy to get
people to change their habits or to get them off of it,” Nienhuis said. “We think what will be really successful is
IM management products, gateway products that allow free IM to be used securely and in an enterprise setting.”

The size of an organization tended to have an influence on whether an enterprise had an IM policy. Most SMBs
had no IM policies at all while larger enterprises were more likely to have one.

The study also found that the three leading uses of IM were not for customer or partner facing communications.
The top three uses of IM in the enterprise noted by respondents were, casual intra-company communication,
personal use and presence awareness.

The potential threat of IM usage was also recently ranked by the SANS Institute. According to
the study IM ranks number 10 on
its list of the top 10 vulnerabilities to Windows Systems.

The enterprise IM space has gone through a significant amount of upheaval this year. In June, AOL and Yahoo
abandoned their own
enterprise IM products. In July Microsoft
opened up its enterprise-focused Live Communications Server 2005 (LCS 2005) to chat with the public
networks of AOL and Yahoo.

Help may be on the way for SMBs from at least one source, though.
Jabber announced at the
end of September a new plug-and-play IM appliance specifically geared for the IM needs of SMBs.

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