Gartner predicts that by the end of 2011, IM will be the de facto tool for voice, video and text chat with 95 percent of workers in leading global organizations using it as their primary interface for real-time communications by 2013. The worldwide market for enterprise IM is forecast to grow from $267 million in 2005 to $688 million in 2010. (Today, WebEx has AIM Pro Business Edition that combines video, data, voip and IM in a single unified solution. Along with mash-ups applications, users will be able to manage multiple business workflows and applications via WebEx AIM Pro Business Edition.)
It's clear that IM is replacing traditional corporate communications like the telephone and email to some degree. Who wants to write a huge email string? “Although consumer IM use has been predominant in business, we expect penetration levels for enterprise grade IM to rise from around 25 percent currently to nearly 100 percent by the end of the decade,” said David Mario Smith, research analyst at Gartner.
The biggest challenge Gartner sees with enterprise IM is SECURITY. It's critical to ensure that IM traffic is secure behind the corporate firewall. External IM communications can be tracked and logged by applications like FaceTime, with is integrated in AIM Pro Business Edition.
“The business benefits that IM can bring are considerable,” added Mr Smith. “The ability to connect people in disparate locations by text, voice and video in one application is incredibly powerful and is equally well suited to an informal ‘water cooler’ atmosphere as well as more formal group communications.” Mr Smith also said that IM is increasingly being used as a vehicle for rapidly disseminating critical information to the entire enterprise, groups of users or individuals in cases such as natural catastrophes, health issues, network outages or schedule changes. In some cases, the IM network remains operational when phone or e-mail systems are down.