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Irwin Lazar, Vice President & Service Director, Nemertes Research

September 6, 2007

2 Min Read

Persistent chat is currently a hot topic in the unified communications and collaboration landscape.  In the last two week’s we’ve seen IBM introduction of persistent chat capabilities as part of its Sametime 8.0 road-map, and Microsoft’s announcement that it was acquiring Parlano and it’s MindAlign application.  Is the time right for enterprises to look at persistent chat as part of their UC architecture?

Persistent chat isn’t a new application, companies such as Jabber, Reuters (through its hosted instant messaging service), Instant Technologies, and Parlano have offered always-on chat room services though outside the financial community these applications haven’t been widely deployed.  In our Building The Successful Virtual Workplace benchmark we noted that only about 5% of the hundred or so enterprises we interviewed were even familiar with persistent chat services.

So why have both IBM and Microsoft made moves to broaden their persistent chat capabilities?  I think both IBM and Microsoft Microsoft see persistent chat as an attractive capability for collaboration.  The key trend we’ve identified around UC and collaboration are the applications that solutions enable, and how those applications interface with, and support, specific business processes.  Persistent chat can be coupled with enterprise resource planning or other business process applications to provide an always-on communication channel.  Enterprises can write applications that trigger alerts, or populate chat sessions with data generated from specific applications.  I believe that both Microsoft and IBM see the potential for delivering a variety of new applications, perhaps some in specific verticals, as well as some general purpose applications.  Both vendors also will be able to exploit its developer network to enable third-party applications to leverage the Microsoft and Sametime chat services.  Finally, both vendors can also integrate persistent chat into applications such as SharePoint (e.g. enabling chat rooms around SharePoint work spaces) or Lotus Quickr.

Enterprises should take a look at persistent chat solutions (both from Microsoft and Lotus as well as the other vendors previously listed) with an eye to understanding how always-on chat rooms, coupled with features including feeds from business applications, bots to alert subscribers of events, and integration of persistent chat into business process applications can offer benefits to the organization.  Persistent chat offers yet another way for groups of individuals to communicate and collaborate in real-time, and in the context of a particular subject, project, or business function.

About the Author(s)

Irwin Lazar

Vice President & Service Director, Nemertes Research

Irwin Lazar is the Vice President and Service Director at Nemertes Research, where he manages research operations, develops and manages research projects, conducts and analyzes primary research, and advises numerous enterprise and vendor clients. Irwin is responsible for benchmarking the adoption and use of emerging technologies in areas including VOIP, UC, video conferencing, social computing, collaboration, contact center and customer engagement.

A Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and sought-after speaker and author, Irwin is a blogger for No Jitter and frequent author for He is a frequent resource for the business and trade press and is regular speaker at events such as Enterprise Connect and Interop. Irwin's earlier background was in IP network architecture, design and engineering.

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