Instant messaging to overtake business email: IDC

Reasearch firm says individuals are becoming 'hyperconnected'

Instant messaging (IM) is set to overtake email as the preferred form of business communication by the second half of 2010, according to research by IDC.

The research, sponsored by Nortel, found that this is because hyperconnected individuals are becoming 'addicted to the instant gratification of IM and text messaging'.

The research white paper 'The Hyper-connected: Here They Come' is based on a global study involving 2,400 working adults in 17 countries. It focused on quantifying the state of today's connectedness, and tracking its acceptance and use across devices and applications, as well as determining the pace of its growth and impact on the enterprise.

The research found that 16% of the global information workforce is already "hyperconnected", and another 36% will soon be joining them. It said that hyperconnectivity varies by industry, from 9% of respondents in healthcare to 25% in high tech industries and 21% in finance industries.

The report says that "the migration to hyperconnectivity will create a profusion of devices, applications, and new business processes" and, already, "the average hyperconnected individual uses at least seven devices to access the network and nine connectivity applications".

The researchers say this profusion will create the need for a strategy and architecture for unified communications across the enterprise if an orderly migration is to occur.

"The boundary between work and personal connectivity for the hyperconnected is almost nonexistent," the researchers report. "Two-thirds use text or instant messaging for both work and personal use. More than a third use social networking for both.

"The freedom to conduct work during personal time will force changes to personal use policies, business practices, training curricula, and IT support policies."

The researchers warned that 'connectivity tools in the hands of employees may increase productivity, but they also increase the risk of the release of sensitive information to the outside world.

"Already some 25% of hyperconnected respondent companies use blogs and wikis to communicate with customers and other outsiders," the report states. "Obtaining the benefits and avoiding the risks of Hyperconnectivity will require unprecedented cooperation between CIOs and their business counterparts."

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