Enterprise IMing Is Expected to Hit a High Note
For many enterprises public instant messaging (IMing) is a communication staple, but according to a recent report from Frost & Sullivan, public IMing in the long term is expected to play second fiddle to enterprise IMing (EIMing).
The report, "World Enterprise Instant Messaging Markets," details industry challenges, market drivers, and limitations that vendors face, as well as provides insight into the future of enterprise IMing. It also explains that while public IMing is expected to continue to burgeon for the next five years, EIMing vendors may find their entrance into the market by bulking up their integration initiatives and educating end users on the advantages that EIMing offers. Additional findings estimate the world enterprise instant messaging market's 2003 earned revenue as $119 million.
According to S.V. Purushothaman, industry analyst of enterprise technology/conferencing and collaboration, although the communication capabilities of public IMing are accompanied by a slew of security threats to enterprises, EIMing will make policing the instant messaging process in the call center much easier. "Call centers cannot have their agents giving out their individual IM IDs to the clients and risk the transfer of sensitive and confidential information over unregulated and unencrypted communication channels," he says. "It becomes difficult to manage 200 call center agents having 200 different public IM IDs spanning AOL, Yahoo, MSN, and ICQ."
Purushothaman also says that enterprise IMing as a collaboration tool has the ability to integrate with enterprise applications, including email management systems and database systems, and with desktop productivity suites like Microsoft Office. This integration will "increase the efficiency of call center agents in retrieving information about the callers and interfacing with other subject matter experts over the caller's issue without the caller knowing about it." He contends that agents will also enjoy an easier experience switching between IM and audio, video, and Web conferencing with other agents to handle callers' concerns.
EIMing also has the upper hand in complying with regulations like the HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), which require enterprises to monitor and archive communication. "Call centers will be required to comply with these regulations and it is not possible with public IMs," Purushothaman says. "More and more call centers are expected to implement enterprise IMing over public IM in the future to be compliant with such regulations."
So if regulations require enterprises to record IMs for quality and compliance, does it become unmanageable? Not according to Purushothaman: "Regulations like HIPAA and SOX require the management of such messages for compliance," he says. "Enterprise IM systems secure IMs for security, archiving, and retrieval purposes."
However, complying with regulations may be both a gift and a curse for EIMing vendors. Acting within the parameters of the guidelines will absorb significant capital on R&D spending, draining the resources available for marketing and promotion campaigns--a possible opportunity for IM vendors to regain their dominance.
But, according to Purushothaman, public IMing will face an uphill battle in the future to recapture its top-seed position as enterprises will require strict security and archiving measures, along with increased collaboration with other enterprise applications. The only snag for enterprise IMing, Purushothaman says, is its hefty price tag. "Public IM is free, but enterprises fail to realize the threats from continued usage of public IMing like viruses and noncompliance with regulations," he says. "It is hard to quantify the actual benefits from enterprise IMing. All benefits are soft-dollar benefits. However, enterprise IMing is expected to come down in price as it becomes more ubiquitous in the enterprise workplace."
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