Think about whether IM will really improve your business communications or just serve as another distraction. First, consider reasons to use an instant messenger:
– Save on long distance. Most instant message services now also support voice conversations as well as video.
– Conduct real-time interaction. Unlike e-mail, when you use an instant messenger you don’t have to wait for messages to download from a mail server.
– Reduce spam. Instant messengers get a lot fewer unwanted messages than e-mail.
– Host chats and conferences. Although instant messengers are most commonly used for two-way conversations, most programs offer a conference or chat setting so your workgroup can meet online.
Like most technologies, instant messaging does have some drawbacks:
– Proprietary software. Most services only let you send messages to other users or add them to your contact list using the same instant messenger you do. Trying to mandate a particular messenger can be difficult, especially if employees are attached to specific programs.
– Word limits. If you need to communicate a large amount of information, an e-mail or phone call is a better choice.
– Security. Take a look at your profile to see what information you’ve made public, and find out if the software creates public directories of its users.
– Misuse. Employees may be tempted to communicate with their friends during work hours.