Getting the Message: Enterprise IM Goes Mainstream

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"What we mean by that is that we are seeing presence awareness being built into a lot of cool applications. For example," he says, "we have a financial services customer—a major financial services firm in the U.S. They have built an application on top of presence awareness from SameTime, so that when some- thing happens in the stock I'm supposed to be watching, it will find the online trader, the trader that is logged in, and can notify them of changes happening in that stock." What's more, this could be tied into other applications and services, so that for instance, it could also link to a list of customers in a CRM customer database, who own or have interest in the given stock, so that an instant message pops up and the person knows to contact these people with this information (or if they are IM users, the instant message could even be sent directly to the customer).

Microsoft's Simnett agrees that presence awareness is an important development of enterprise IM. He says, "We are really excited about the future of real-time communication in the enterprise. One of the key things about IM is the presence capability, the ability to see people are online or offline, which we believe fundamentally changes the way people communicate." Microsoft, recognizing that this has great potential, developed a set of APIs that allows third-party vendors to build functionality on top of the RTC Server. Simnett says, "We think about presence as not just enabling instant messaging, but enriching communications in other applications. Whether it's information or productivity or line of business applications, we see that core presence capability being inserted in those applications."

AOL's Stuart also raises the notion of bots, which allow you to build applications that are not person-to-person, but rather person-to-application. Says Stuart, "To the extent you can do more tailored bot- styled applications that map to individual business names, this gives the ability to query back against the database through a screen name, for instance, or query back against sales data and sales information." Stuart adds that using the power of presence is pretty significant and business can take advantage of this to build business workflow applications within the IM client.

With the drive for ever more timely business communication, IT departments must find a way to incorporate and control instant messaging within the enterprise. And, the fact that tools intended to help do just that are emerging, giving people the power to communicate instantly, must be an appealing prospect to many companies. The real advantage of enterprise IM, however, appears to be the ability to exploit the presence awareness built into the IM application as a powerful tool to help automate information processing throughout the enterprise. Inevitably, financial service companies and others who profit from real-time communication will continue to take advantage of this medium, and others are sure to follow.

Companies Mentioned in This Article:
Thomas Weisel Partners
Yankee Group

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