In reference to my Collaboration Predictions for 2006 back in February 2006, it seems as though parts of the predictions are coming true. Earlier this week, WebEx released the first enterprise-class on-demand application for enterprise instant messaging (EIM). EIM has more robust capabilities and compliance policies that the standard MSN, Yahoo IM, Trillian, Skype etc lack. (Instant Messaging has come a long way since the days of MIT's "Project Athena" back in 1987!!!)
With the AOL partnership, WebEx AIM PRO Business Edition penetrates a user base of over 70M active users, which is over 2 times larger than the Microsoft IM user base (29M active users) and Yahoo IM user base (21M active users), IBM Sametime (15M active users).
The Radicati Group, a technology market research firm out of Palo Alto, CA, has stated that instant messaging (IM) is utilized by over 135 million workers and viewed as a mission-critical collaboration application. Radicati expects this number to grow to 477 million users by 2009. This provides tremendous opportunities for companies that can integrate other collaboration technologies with IM: voice, audio, video, instant data sharing, calendaring.
With WebEx AIM Pro Business Edition, customers can now instantly communicate and share documents in real-time across the WebEx MediaTone Network. With end to end 128 bit SSL encryption, companies can feel confident that all IM communications are secure and compliant. The automatic file scanning and SpIM blocking dramatically reduces the concerns of computer viruses and worms. Cross IM platform communication is also a huge plus since no other EIM solutions allow this today.
Microsoft has their on-premise Live Communications Server solution and IBM just unveiled new instant messaging capabilities to their on-premise SameTime solution so we are seeing the convergent properties starting to merge into a unified platform. Though their is a push from these on-premise giants to compete with software as a service leaders like WebEx and Salesforce.com, the fact remains the same, the days of traditional enterprise software and siloed IT environments are numbered.