Corporate Instant Messaging

Written by Serena Berger
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Instant messaging is one of the most popular ways to communicate in both personal and business contexts. An IM is convenient for both parties, can grab the attention of a recipient who isn't checking email or whose phone line is tied up, and generally yields an extremely efficient response time. Having a public instant messenger service installed on employees' computers is a terrible idea, however, for several reasons.

First, employee productivity has been shown to decrease dramatically when employees are on AIM or MSN Messenger. They can chat with their friends or family members outside of work, and this often seems much more appealing than executing their work responsibilities. Instead of trying to police your employees' unapproved use of instant messaging, simply install your own private corporate instant messenger network and prohibit employees from installing any other.

Your own private IM network also helps you maintain privacy and security. Any information sent over public instant messenger networks is not very secure, and can be easily intercepted. If employees are using these networks to talk about work or send files back and forth, you would want to limit what they discussed and transferred because it would not be secure.

Corporate Instant Messaging Is Controlled and Secure

It's also too easy for people to mask their identity on public IM networks. Someone can get a very similar screen name to an employee's known screen name, or simply get online and say they got a new screen name for some reason. Would you notice whether you were getting a message from John.Smith296785 or John.Smith296875? As an employer, you want a network on which you can control activity, user identities, and groups in order to protect your employees and yourself from making mistakes and compromising security.

Ultimately, if you opt to install a private, secure corporate instant messenger network, you should have control over every aspect of its administration. You can protect yourself from malicious viruses, protect the security of your data and intellectual property, and make your entire operation more efficient with the right package. Look for a system that has a centralized management console which you can customize and use for security, administration, running queries, and monitoring activity.

Archived Records from Network Communications

You can set your system to record and archive all instant message threads which take place. This is one of the ways in which instant messaging is preferable to phone conversations--you have a record of what was said, requested, and promised in any conversation. It eliminates any confusion when employees claim that they did not know they were supposed to do something or that it was never discussed. A supervisor can step in, check the archive of the conversation, and get up to speed on what was supposed to be done in order to make a decision about how to proceed when there is a problem.

Instant messages aren't just used to have typed conversations. A corporate IM network can support streaming audio and file sharing, as well. Sophisticated global conferencing can take place, presentations can be made to clients across the country, and you can collaborate with people from other industries anywhere you want. There are no such things as geographic boundaries or media limitations for cyber communication any more!

When safety and security are a concern, look for a corporate instant messaging system that can be placed behind a firewall of your choosing. The reach of the network you allow the program to access can be restricted to a LAN, specific IP address(es) or IP ranges. As an employer, you can make a choice that gives your business the freedom and flexibility it needs to thrive without giving your employees any dangerous temptations to undermine your goals and security.

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