Instant message use is growing in the enterprise, but IM is not always strategically implemented. Employees frequently install the various IM freeware for communicating with friends or colleagues—without any sanction or knowledge by the company’s IT department. The increased use, along with potential issues relating to network security and liability, is prompting many CIOs to formally acknowledge that their organizations need policies and procedures regarding IM.

As more systems are deployed, research firm IDC estimates that corporate IM spending will increase from $133 million this year to $1.1 billion in 2005. To help CIOs understand the many issues relating to IM use, TechRepublic examined critical aspects in a recent series of articles. To get required background and insight, don’t miss reading ”Why CIOs should embrace IM,” as it outlines the reasons tech leaders need to pay attention to indiscriminate corporate IM use.

Free IM services often lack security and integration into companies’ information systems. Uncontrolled IM use can cause serious breaches, such as providing a point of entry for Trojans and worms—and even for snooping competitors. IM files are seldom archived, which could expose financial services companies to SEC or other violations. Read more about the shortcomings of IM in ”Instant messaging threatens enterprise security.”

Guidelines are scarce concerning instant messaging.

In addition to security and liability risks, IM can eat up a chunk of an enterprise’s bandwidth, making it even more important to take control of the technology. CIOs often have to satisfy conflicting needs, such as providing a way for outside customers to instant-message service reps while securing confidential corporate information through an intranet. The article ”Consider both users’ and enterprise needs when choosing an IM solution” provides a closer look at that balancing act and can help IT leaders determine the right solution to put in place.

CIOs have to figure out not only what an IM system needs to do but also how it’s going to do it. Stand-alone solutions force IT to support more separate user accounts, so companies often opt for integrating IM with existing communication systems. That can be quite a challenge, as you’ll find when you read ”Value of instant messaging for the enterprise hinges on integration.”

After you’re up to date on the issues and potential solutions, it’s time to find the right services provider. TechRepublic’s list of IM services will help you get a good head start and will save a great deal of time.

Share your IM strategy

TechRepublic would like to hear about your experience with IM implementations, integration issues, and policies you’ve put in place as we continue our coverage of this technology.  Write and share your input. If we use your tip or feedback in an article, we’ll send you a TechRepublic mug.