Notes on "Instant Messaging 2.0"

From left to right … Adam Gartenberg (IBM), Nick Fera (Parlano), Eran Barak (Reuters Messaging), and Irwin Lazaar (Nemertes Research)

Setting the Stage, Irwin Lazaar
A key issue is the virtual workplace, and the need to support workers where ever they are. Growing revenue is the primary driver for embracing instant messaging and other forms of virtual work supporting tools.

Key trends:

  • We’re moving beyond simple text messaging. New applications are persistent chat rooms, compliance management, and mash-ups with enterprise and web-based applications.
  • 59% of organizations have deployed an enterprise IM platform
  • Rising interest in unified communications
  • Key challenges with instant messaging … public vs. hosted vs. private, IM in unified communications, privacy, interruptions, compliance, and more.

Focus of the session is on new applications.

Opening Comments from Panelists
Eran Barak … is Reuters in instant messaging? Yes, offer Reuters Messaging. Reuters as a news provider is about 10% of the total business; much of its business is in the supply of market data. But this objective data isn’t sufficient … it needs to be complemented with subjective information gathered through collaborative interactions with other people.

Reuters Messaging is a hosted service, offering three main capabilities … communication, community, and content. See my interview with Eran for more on this.

Nick Fera … the CEO of Parlano, based in Chicago. The technology has been around since 1996, but Parlano has been in business since 2000. Heavy need for enterprise grade instant messaging within the financial services industry … which is where Parlano focuses. Focuses on persistent group chat … for many-to-many chat forums that are aligned with projects or customers. One-to-one wasn’t the model, because that’s not how people get their work done. See my previous coverage of Parlano.

Adam Gartenberg … from IBM (and he blogs at Sametime offers instant messaging, and it is increasingly being integrated with other business applications for presence-display and then interaction with other people.

1. Nick, you say that instant messaging is shifting away from one-to-one to many-to-many … are you sure?
Nick … it’s our business model, so we do believe it. The point is that individual interruptions are not controlled, but within Parlano it is aggregated into channels. You’ve got to read the book, Coolhunting if you are in collaboration.

Eran … you’re going to see a mix of both. Traders on the financial trading floor have multiple screens because they don’t want to switch between windows continually. Being interrupted by instant messaging is part of their workflow and way of keeping up with knowledge. Group collaboration and messaging are changing how we work … we’re moving from email to conversations that are presence enabled; presence can be differentiated by person.

Adam … seeing that people want more granular security settings on presence, to control who can communicate with you at a certain points. There’s also an implicit social contract … where each user needs to set the expectations of others, eg, to update the status setting to say what you’re up to.

2. You mentioned unified communications … it changes the organization via technical aspects, and it also has organizational problems with getting the messaging folks to talk to the telephony folks, and vice versa?
Adam … Definitely seeing a change where the two groups that have been separated, are being brought together into a single group. The organizational mis-alignment is being addressed.

Nick … there’s a distinct solution between responsibilities for IM and telephony. There’s fiefdom fighting on who will own it … Parlano seeks to address the scenarios and situations where it makes a difference to the organization.

Eran …

3. Can IM be a “new home” for knowledge workers?
Adam … people will have a “new home”, but it will be different for many. Some will continue to live in email, the new generation will like IM, for others it will depend on the time of day and day of the week. Thus you need to choose tools wisely for supporting work style.

Nick … has grown to hate email, but that’s no surprise really. Nick has the Parlano chat system working on his BlackBerry Pearl … and does 20 IMs to 1 email. While chat has been around for a long time, it is still evolving from a business perspective.

Eran … the lack of global interoperability between IM … that is with email I can message anyone else with email (and it’s a big population) … but we’re not there yet with instant messaging. But federation is coming. Also, other markets haven’t yet adopted / embraced instant messaging, and so they haven’t worked through the policy and compliance issues yet.

4. Federation between MSN and Sametime?
Adam … still waiting for the business relationships to get formalized.

Nick … federation is a business relationship, not a technical issue. Nothing is technically impossible … it’s all commercial / business. There are some limitations to federation today, but you can do a tremendous amount already today.

Eran … there are so many standards in collaboration … but it’s time … there’s pressure from users for federation.

5. As you connect islands of people across organizational boundaries, how do you deal with conflicts of interest and business risks?
Eran … but that’s true of email and telephone calls today. Some companies are not concerned about this, but those that are have implemented policy enforcement functions to prevent this from happening.

Adam … there are technology-based ways of dealing with this.

Nick … there is granular control available to ensure that only certain people can talk, or that other certain people can’t talk by instant messaging.

6. What are the drivers of success in federation between organizations?
Nick … the policy and management system is key. Also, from a compliance standpoint, do I have to record this?

7. What’s the business driver for continuing to federate at a rapid pace and making it easy?
Adam … for company-to-company federation, users need to be able to communicate with others, whilst also maintaining corporate policy and ensure compliance. Remove the risks of public IM clients.

Eran … we see IM becoming commoditized … it will be a given. All of the players are moving up the value chain, and are offering more enhanced capabilities to prove additional value.

Nick … if I can be connected to all of my suppliers and business partners, then I have become more effective as an organization. That’s the key. The ROI is individual to each firm … what’s the processes that we want to enable?

Adam … it’s the speed with which you can connect to customers and suppliers.

Irwin, thanks to all.

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