How would you describe the business IM market today?
The business instant message (IM) market is still in its infancy. However, I am seeing some large organizations that are utilizing IM as a productivity enhancement tool for employees. These early adopters are beginning to recognize the advantages of instantaneous response that teenagers and home PC users have realized for years and I believe that we'll begin to see corporate IM initiatives occurring with greater frequency in the coming years.
To date, most business IM use has been due to employee initiative – with employees even using their personal IM accounts - as opposed to business need. IM is not currently high on the priority list of infrastructure projects for IT departments and IM practices are not monitored and controlled by IT, a major issue in regulated industries like healthcare and financial services. IM and presence management, which usually go hand-in-hand, offer the most promise in enhancing communication among geographically distributed teams, but some headway has also been made using IM as a customer service advantage for online stores via live chat with service agents. Overall, I think you can expect to see more IM use in the business environment as IT departments begin to take advantage of this real-time communication tool.