Instant Messaging.

Instant Messaging

Instant messa­ging (IM) allows multiple people to commu­ni­cate in real time, via the Internet or an orga­niza­ti­on’s internal network. Simple, easy to use programs, called IM Clients, make this possible. Many IM Clients are available on the Internet for a free down­load and even as a free busi­ness soft­ware appli­ca­tion. Messages most commonly contain simple text, but the tech­no­logy also permits images, sounds, and other files to be exch­anged. Speech commu­ni­ca­tion, known as audio confe­ren­cing, is also possible by using microphones.

Benefits of Instant Messaging

Unlike e‑mail, instant messa­ging happens in real time. The soft­ware allows users to see when other users are online, and infor­ma­tion can be received and replied to imme­dia­tely. Instant messa­ging allows friends and family to stay in touch, and has replaced the tele­phone as a means of social commu­ni­ca­tion for many, but it can also provide many bene­fits to busi­ness and other organizations.

Instant messa­ging has proven to be a very effec­tive way of sharing infor­ma­tion within an orga­niza­tion. For simple ques­tions or issues that require a quick response, messa­ging instant text may be the best means of commu­ni­ca­tion. Instant messa­ging is less disrup­tive than tele­phone calls and face-to-face conver­sa­tions. Compared to long-distance tele­phone calls, IM saves money, as well. Instant messa­ging exch­anges tend to be shorter than phone calls and in-person meetings, saving employee time, and IM conver­sa­tions can be saved for future refe­rence, if necessary.

Instant messa­ging is also gaining popu­la­rity amongst compa­nies that offer their clients a way to contact customer support via live chat online. Tech support personnel chat with the customer via instant messa­ging while viewing the custo­mer’s screen using remote access. Such situa­tions are ideal for online computer repair and remote desktop support.

Beyond Instant Messaging

Instant messa­ging soft­ware is useful for far more than simple one-on-one exch­anges. Cont­acts can be orga­nized into groups, and messages sent to an entire group at one time. Most messa­ging programs also permit IM Confe­ren­cing, or the ability to exch­ange instant messages with multiple people at one time. This can include voice commu­ni­ca­tion, if desired. Spreadsheets, word-proces­sing docu­ments, slide presen­ta­tions and other files can be instantly sent to all parti­ci­pants. Often these files are too big to be sent as an e‑mail attach­ment, but instant messa­ging has no such limi­ta­tion. In addi­tion, many IM programs allow instant messages to be forwarded to a mobile phone as a text message.

Some instant messa­ging programs are teamed with other forms of group­ware such as free screen sharing and tele­con­fe­ren­cing appli­ca­tions that can enhance the colla­bo­ra­tion even further. This powerful combi­na­tion is ideal for Internet confe­ren­cingremote support or a net meeting.

Instant messa­ging, like e‑mail before it, has become a powerful colla­bo­ra­tion tool that is available — and will soon become indis­pensable — to any indi­vi­dual or group with a need to communicate.