Enterprise IM Systems … will they survive?

I don’t know the answer to the question I pose but let me wrap some flesh around my thoughts.  Today more and more workers are location independent.  More and more organisations are moving to consumer led purchases of IT equipment and software.  Many organisations turn a blind eye to public IM clients on their networks.  Many employees turn to IM aggregators such as Trillian, Gaim or Meebo to enhance their IM experience.  Now the major vendors are implementing gateways, some free and some at extra licence cost, to public IM networks.  Some questions:

Will that gateway action be enough to ensure those enterprise IM systems survive?
Do I as an enterprise need an IM system?
If I as an enterprise allow free aggregated clients, use monitoring software at my boundary for any compliance issues do I need to have an enterprise IM system?
Does the cost of the enterprise IM environment justify the presence awareness I get in my email client?
Does the fact that clear text over the internet can be read make my corporate IM system a necessity on security or compliance grounds?

I think the answer in the short to medium term (say 5 years) is yes they do have a future.  Pervasive presence awareness in applications, secure federation to business partners and extended use of bots will be the key to success.  Longer term when standards prevail for presence awareness rather than proprietary coding and better federation exists between vendors then we could see more use of hosted IM services.   Exciting times ahead.

Apologies to those who read this twice, I posted a draft in error. 


  1. I think the fact that the answer to your last question is a resounding yes will make Enterprise IMs hang around as long as Enterprise Mail systems do. Think about how hard it is to get a simple port opened up on your firewall and apply that to having confedential company information constantly flowing over the internet, especially when they are chatting with a colleague just down the hall.



  2. I agree that in the short to medium term that they will be around in their present form.

    Longer term I would expect the pervasive presence to as common and as taken for granted as network connectivity. As a result IM wouldn’t be a standalone product but more of a standard or complimentary feature on a dashboard, or portal/rich client.

    Though concerns around security are well founded, I think believe technology to monitor and patrol critical gateways for IM and messaging etc. will become standard practise in ring fencing and securing proprietary information. So perhaps an externally hosted service is possible?



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