AOL Study Shows Business IM Use On The Rise
Nearly 60 percent of Internet users are also IM users, they are getting older, and more of them are at work.
The population of instant messaging users is getting larger, it is getting older, and more of its members are at work today, according to a survey released today by AOL.
- Why Rational Development Solutions for Power?
- 2012 IBM Chief Information Security Officer Assessment
In its Second Annual Instant Messaging Trends Survey, which was conducted nationally and over the full range of IM systems and users, the company found that 59 percent of Internet users now use instant messaging.
While teens and young adults still dominate the population, nearly 48 percent of those surveyed who are older than 55 year of age use instant messaging, and 43 percent of the employed populations of IM users use the product at work. And while 62 percent of the at-work users do use IM to stay in touch with family and friends, the overwhelming use is for business productivity reasons.
As a result, nearly three quarters of the at-work instant messaging users felt that its use has a positive impact on their work lives. Over a third use IM to interact with customers, and 63 percent say they send IMs to get answers from colleagues and to make business decisions.
Generally, the pattern of at-work use of IM indicates that these services enhance productivity by enabling efficient communications among colleagues. The usage pattern of at-work IM users revealed in the AOL survey is this:
- Communicate quickly with colleagues (70%)
- Get answers and make business decisions (63%)
- Stay in touch with friends and family (62%)
- Interact with clients and customers (34%)
- Stay in touch with the office while on business travel (32% of mobile messagers)
- Exchange files (27%)
- Organize in-person meetings (21%)
- Send URLs colleagues (19%)
- Organize in-person meetings (21%)
- Organize conference calls (15%)
"I am pleased by the growth of IM in the workplace because it shows that IM has become an important tool for the workplace today, said AOL's senior vice presidient for desktop messaging, Edmund Fish, "while some of the use is personal, most is professional so it's just like the way we use the phone at work." He noted that the efficiency and increased collaboration made possible by IM are clear from this study.
The study also disclosed that nearly 20 percent of IM users are sending messages from PDAs using IM and from mobile phones using SMS, indicating a rise in mobile messaging. Nearly 32 percent of those mobile users are using IM for business purposes, primarily to keep in touch with colleagues while away. Nearly three quarters of mobile IM users said they use it when they don't have time to engage in a phone conversation. The survey also noted an increase in IM use over SMS use.
Some at-work results are not quite so productivity-oriented, but are interesting enough for AOL to be handing out "awards" to cities with certain IM performance characteristics.
The Water Cooler Award: IM users in Philadelphia are most likely to gossip or complain about both their co-workers and their boss via IM (both 27 percent).
The Job Jumper Award: In Tampa, Fla. IM users are most likely to send instant messages from work to look for new jobs (24 percent).
The Romance@Work Award: In Washington, D.C., IM users are most likely to flirt or ask for or accept a date by instant message from the workplace (39 percent).
HR departments might have your compliance folks monitoring for activities described in the last award.
There were other interesting awards handed out in the study, for example the Fastest Finger Award was shared by New York and Dallas for sending the most messages per day; and the Clark Kent award goes to Washington, D.C., and Minnesapolis, Minn., for having the most users with multiple screen names in order to maintain alter egos. (Editors Note: AOL's headquarters is located near Washington).
Other notes of interest in the AOL study include these:
IM is gaining and in some cases surpassing e-mail use, with 29 percent of respondents saying they send as many, or more IMs than e-mails. That result goes up as the ages of respondents goes down.
Broadband connectivity has increased IM use with nearly 30 percent of IM users accessing instant messaging through broadband connections at home indicating that it has increased their IM use.
Young users are using their IM names as calling cards, giving them out to new acquaintances rather than giving out their e-mail addresses.
More than one in three IM users have more than one IM name, with nearly 60 percent of those users saying they do it to keep groups of contacts separate.
Of the IM features most valued by most users, photo sharing is at the top with 39 percent of users depending on it, customization ranks next, and file sharing ranks third.
This last result moved AOL senior director of corporate communications Krista Thomas to comment, "I am surprised that photo sharing is so high, and it's great to see because it means that people are interested in doing more with IM than just text messaging."
You may also be interested to know that New York City is the largest market for instant messaging. The top ten U.S. cities line up this way:
- New York, N.Y.
- Miami, Fla.
- Chicago, Ill.
- Philadelphia, Penn.
- Orlando, Fla.
- Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas
- Atlanta, Ga.
- Washington, D.C.
- Los Angeles, Calif.
- Houston, Texas
More than 61 percent of respondents in the survey said that they use more tha one instant messaging application. AOL's Instant Messenger remains on top by garnering 52 percent of the users in the study.
AOL conducted the Second Annual Instant Messaging Trends Survey in cooperation with Opinion Research Corporation during June and July of this year.