Enterprise IM set to grow, says study

The ability to communicate in real-time using instant messaging (IM) is increasing workers’ productivity and in turn is driving...

The ability to communicate in real-time using instant messaging (IM) is increasing workers’ productivity and in turn is driving IM adoption in the enterprise, according to a study by the Radicati Group.

Although corporate IM accounts are expected to reach 60 million in 2003, IM still has not reached its full potential in terms of neither usage nor functionality in the enterprise space, says Genelle Hung, market analyst at the Radicati Group. Corporate IM accounts are expected to increase to 349 million in 2007.

Over the next 12 to 18 months users can expect to see the integration of IM with other enterprise applications such as CRM and ERP, officials from several IM suppliers said.

"Through the management server we're going to let people tap into the [IM] service at an application program interface (API) level," said Brian Curry, senior director of strategy development, Strategic Business Solutions Team at AOL.

Users could plug IM in for the "purposes of file transfer and for messaging value-add as well as for the creation of automated agents and adding front-ends to [users’] back office applications," he added.

Users can also expect to see enhancements to security features and identity management.

"As IM becomes more prevalent in multiple applications, it’s going to become more difficult for people to filter IM messages they get," said Patrick Dorsey, group manager for Sun ONE Communications and Collaboration Software at Sun.

"What we see going forward is a greater need for identity management software as well as the underlying profile or description," he said, explaining that these functions would be along the lines of allowing users to determine who can contact them, when and for what purposes.

Suppliers of corporate IM products can expect to see their revenues almost triple by 2007, from $116m (£69m) to $344m (£204m) in 2007, according to Radicati’s report.

That is the first type of supplier in the corporate IM market as defined by Radicati is the corporate IM suppliers, who provide IM technology to clients deploying corporate IM.

The second group is the enterprise development tool suppliers who look to use IM to develop value-added applications that allow users to communicate with other applications or having applications drive IM.

Radicati expects revenues for these suppliers to increase from $2.6m in 2003 to $7.5m (£4.5m)in 2007.

Third are the IM management suppliers who provide technology to manage, log and archive enterprise IM traffic.

Radicati said there is a great market opportunity for these suppliers because of lack of interoperability between different IM clients.

The research firm predicted that revenue for IM management suppliers such as FaceTime Communications and IMLogic would increase from $6.8m in 2002 to $25.7m (£15.3m)in 2007.

However, it looks like suppliers are interested in eventually settling on a standard such as Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), and Session Initiation for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions (Simple), followed by Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP).

Radicati’s reported that 67% of companies using enterprise IM worldwide are in North America. This is because most IM suppliers tend to be based in North America and are targeting domestic markets before foreign markets.

However, North America's percentage of the worldwide IM implementations will drop to 50% by 2007 as Europe's usage rises, Radicati said. 

The company forecast that by 2007 IM deployment in the enterprise in Western Europe will increase to 32%. While in Asia-Pacific this will increase to 14%. The rest of the world comprises only 1% of enterprise IM implementations in 2003 and will increase to only 2% in 2007.

Rebecca Reid writes for IDG News Service

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