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95% of Workers To Use IM as a Primary Comm Tool

By Larry Barrett Print this article Print

But increased regulatory and compliance issues mean CIOs now have to deal with a slew of new security and data-management problems.

Workers conditioned to the constant and annoying pings of their instant-messaging systems had better buck up and get used to it.

According to the latest industry report from Gartner, 95% of all corporate employees will use IM as their primary tool for communicating among themselves by 2013. The research firm predicts that enterprise-class IM system sales will surge from $267 million in 2005 to more than $688 million in 2010.

IM's rapid evolution from a cute, consumer-driven toy to an organizational necessity was inevitable, but increased regulatory and compliance issues mean CIOs now have to deal with a slew of new security and data-management problems.

"We saw IM start as a social phenomenon," says David Mario Smith, an analyst at Gartner. "Now it's crept into the enterprise. There's a lot of unsanctioned use of IM out there, so CIOs are taking it much more seriously."

While consumer IM offerings such as Microsoft's MSN, AOL's AIM and Yahoo Messenger are informally used by many organizations, CIOs worried about viruses, security breaches and the long arm of the SEC are turning to secure, enterprise-class IM systems that reside behind the organization's firewall.

Currently, about 25% of large companies have abandoned all consumer-based IM products in favor of IBM's Lotus Sametime and Microsoft's Live Communications Server systems. Gartner predicts that almost 100% of large companies will be using enterprise-class IM systems by the end of the decade.

But it doesn't come cheap. Smith says companies are paying between $2 and $4 per user each month for the service.

Meanwhile, CIOs are deploying security software from vendors such as FaceTime, Akonix and Symantec that allows employees to use AIM or MSN without putting the network at risk.

This article was originally published on 2007-06-22
Senior Writer
Larry, of San Carlos, Calif., was a senior writer and editor at CNet, writing analysis, breaking news and opinion stories. He was technology reporter at the San Jose Business Journal from 1996-1997. He graduated with a B.A. from San Jose State University where he was also executive editor of the daily student newspaper.
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