Wednesday, July 13, 2005

"Different" Reasons To Use IM for Business

There are lots of reasons why instant messaging, or IM, is a useful communications medium for business: easy to use, it's free, provides interoffice communication without tying up phones, etc. etc.

These are all great, but there are other aspects of IM you might not consider that are useful. Particularly when a client needs to communicate with a consultant, like myself. I'll highlight three of these uses in the general context of a corporate client talking with his marketing consultant.

1. Instant messaging forces both sides to think about the project. Your brain has to be working to type about it, especially in real-time.
   A. For the client, this means he'll be reassessing the priority of the project, mentally tallying what he needs to put together during the project, and so on.
   B. For the consultant, he can mull over questions he has for the client, run ideas by them, and do research with the client right on hand for approvals.

2. IM provides a record of the meeting/conversation that both parties can refer to later. Simply save the log before closing the IM window, and boom! Instant meeting notes. Easier to read, too.

3. You don't even have to be in the office! Either party can use their cellphone, PDA or laptop anywhere they have access. Have some coffee, distract yourself from the squeal of a dentist's drill in the next room - wherever you are, you can communicate via IM.

IM is slow to grow on businesses, but its intrinsic value is growing all the time. With the creation of IM servers for corporate hosting, improved security on messages, and open-source development of IM software and additions, instant messaging is a medium any company should take a serious look at to improve their overall communications.

(By the way, for anyone who wants to contact me on IM, I have an AIM screen name: "blfert." I'm sure you can guess what it means!)

Disclaimer: IM is, unless additional steps are taken, an unsecured protocol. Do not exchange company secrets or confidential information via IM unless necessary, and after appropriate security measures have been taken.


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