Global telco Sprint has launched what it says is the first secure, "enterprise class" instant-messaging service designed specifically for businesses. To date, most IM technology has been for consumers, Sprint marketing director Kenny Wyatt says. While consumer services such as America Online's Instant Messenger have proved useful in the office, security worries have scared businesses off, he says. Sprint's Enterprise IM encrypts messages and is wholly contained within a company's firewall.
Some competing IM services, such as those from Lotus and Research In Motion Ltd., also sport encryption, Wyatt says, but unlike Sprint's service, they also require new gear in the form of servers and handsets. Its messages are transferred via Web-based clients or cell phones and wireless devices. "This is network and device agnostic," he says.
Aberdeen Group analyst Dana Gardner says instant messaging is an increasingly hot area of corporate IT spending. "We think that if people haven't elevated this to a high level on their priorities list, they should reconsider that," he says. "It does solve a lot of problems, and the price is pretty reasonable."