IM: Why Businesses Aren't Yet Convinced It's For Them - InformationWeek
Software // Enterprise Applications
06:50 PM

IM: Why Businesses Aren't Yet Convinced It's For Them

Security is the biggest worry. But many also haven't had great demand from employees.

Instant messaging is so rooted in consumer Web technology, it's become a platform for offering other services. Yet many businesses remain wary of it, even for information workers. It's a symbol of how far apart consumer and business tech users can be.

Microsoft and Yahoo last week made major upgrades to their instant messaging platforms. A beta version of Yahoo's real-time communications suite includes plug-ins that link to consumer sites such as, eBay, and Yahoo Calendar, and Yahoo has opened up its APIs for the first time, hoping many more developers will build plug-ins for its IM application. Microsoft's latest Windows Live Messenger lets users make voice calls through a prepaid service from Verizon. It also allows videoconferencing and includes a feature for sharing folders, letting users drag and drop files and photos into the application from their desktops. Handy--but also one more way for data to flow out of the company, the IT security pro will think.

IT managers struggle with the value versus risk of IM. Phil Go, CIO of construction company Barton Malow, offered IM in a Polycom WebOffice product, but employees found it too difficult to use. He's interested in offerings like Microsoft's if they can meet all his business needs: "Scalability, maintainability, and security." And he needs audit trails. That can be done with IM, but it often takes working with a third-party messaging vendor.

Many companies aren't sure they need it. George Chizmar, VP of IT at Apple Vacations, says IM wasn't on any business managers' requirements list when the company bought Lotus Notes. But it came with the package. "IM is being used more and more, so we are seeing the value of IM in a much different light these days," he says. Now, Lotus has a new version of IM, and the company will consider it.

At Indiana University, IM's official use started with a small group of employees, including its support center, using applications from AOL, MSN, and Yahoo. "But our minds are opening quickly, and we're looking at some of the new options out there," says Sue Workman, the university's director of user support, who cites faster IT support as a possible future use. "It's the next way to communicate more and faster, in business and in life," Workman says. "Our students and children found this out a couple of years ago, and now we're catching up."

Return to main story, In Depth: Is Centralized IT Killing Tech Innovation?

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of the Cloud Report
As the use of public cloud becomes a given, IT leaders must navigate the transition and advocate for management tools or architectures that allow them to realize the benefits they seek. Download this report to explore the issues and how to best leverage the cloud moving forward.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll