IM is used in 85 percent of all enterprises in North America, but how
many have actually bothered to measure its ROI? A new report from the
Radicati Group titled “Measuring IM Productivity in the Enterprise”
attempts to tackle the question of how to quantify IM productivity and its
value in the enterprise.
“We believe very few have tried to quantify IM ROI in any rigorous/formal
way. On the order of 10 percent only have tried to estimate this in their
environments,” Dr. Sara Radicati, President & CEO of The Radicati Group, Inc.
told instantmessagingplanet.com. “Part of the reason is that there
isn’t yet a well known, accepted methodology for doing so.”
In the report, Radicati analysts examined two IM usage scenarios in particular to
help quantify the dollar benefit of IM usage: In the first scenario an
employee is trying to discuss something with a coworker. The second scenario
deals with communication with coworkers while on a conference call. For each
scenario, the report lists how the communication is handled with IM and
without IM. The report concludes that IM leads to significant and quantifiable
“By looking at time taken by employees to undertake two typical daily
scenarios both with and without IM, we find that using IM can save companies an average of
40 minutes per user per day,” the report states. “In a 5,000-employee
organization, this results in $37.5 million per year in productivity
Radicati bases its $37.5 million figure on its assumption of an average
hourly wage of $41.67 per hour, or approximately $80,000 a year. It’s also
important to note that the productivity savings figure does not factor in
the costs of security and regulatory compliance issues for IM. That said,
Radicati still believes that even with those additional costs factored in,
the ROI of IM is still favorable.
“However, since different companies invest/spend very different amounts
on the security aspect so it’s difficult to come up with a general rule of
thumb as to how much security affects IM ROI,” Dr. Radicati explained. “In
general, we feel it will reduce the ROI (or actually lengthen the ROI
period) but that companies would still see significant ROI improvements from
The report emphasizes that the real-time nature of IM is an essential
component for the modern enterprise to succeed. Combined with presence
awareness, IM allows for more real-time communication and quicker responses.
“To take advantage of a new business opportunity, organizations cannot
always afford to wait until a coworker reads his/her email, checks a fax, or
returns a phone call after checking for voice messages,” the report states.
“Increasingly, businesses need to connect in real time to move a project or
Also among the “soft benefits” noted by Radicati analysts are
improved employee satisfaction, better working relationships, and a more open
and fun form of communication. Dr. Radicati however does not believe that
the “negative” uses of IM (personal conversations and non-business
communication) pose a greater threat than those posed by communication
via phone or Internet in general.
“Basically the individuals that, let’s say, abuse the phone for personal
use during business hours are likely to also abuse IM for personal use,”
she said. “I think this really comes down to individual behavior,
some employees are more considerate in their use of company time/resources
and other are not.”
Though IM is an extremely effective form of communication, the report’s authors do
not believe that IM will eventually replace other forms of communication.
“Today, the corporate world uses email regularly, but phone calls are
still made, and faxes and letters still sent,” the report states. “In the
coming years, we expect IM to become another invaluable form of
communication which saves time and resources and increases overall corporate