Instant Messaging Ate our Intellectual Property

By Adam Levithan posted 01-23-2014 15:12


It's 10:00 AM (or whatever time your watch says at this moment), have you used an Instant Messenger (IM) today? If you're like most people in personal or corporate life the answer to this question is yes. The foundation of IM started with the interconnected computers in the 1960s-70s and rapidly picked up adoption when graphic user interfaces were added in the 1990s. Think back to AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), which I've still seen in use today within a corporation. This communication method revolutionized how people could instantaneously communicate with others around the world, is still used today in many formats, but is overlooked by many organizations as an integral part of an information management strategy. As a result, most intellectual Property is flushed away in an individual’s IM cache after they've had a creative, innovative and/or problem solving conversation.

One method to overcome this loss of Intellectual Property is to implement an Enterprise Instant Messaging (EIM) system like IBM Sametime or Microsoft Lync. These systems save back-ups of conversations and provide higher levels of security, creating confidence that your organization’s information is safe. However, even when using an EIM, how does an organization's employees know what communication is best to put in that system? 

One way to compare IM to other collaboration and communication features is to place it within a matrix that includes audience size (individual to enterprise-wide) and type of content (permanent record to temporary communication).  The nearby chart shows where IM/UC fits along each continuum. To optimize the capability of IM I would rank its purpose as:

Holding temporary content for a small audience.

To make this even more complicated both personal and enterprise IM systems are now the front-end of Unified Communications systems allowing instantaneous phone and video communication. Today IM has many different flavors - independent systems like Google Talk/Chat+ or Lync compared to messengers built within Facebook or Yammer. Each system can have a specific place within your information management strategy.

As a result, IM turns into a great place to remove unnecessary communication from your e-mail, yes actually unclutter your in-box a little. What does this mean in real life? Here are some quick examples:

  • Jay: are you at your desk, I want to ask you a question?
  • Mary: did you say to book the meeting at 2:00 PM or 2:30 PM?
  • Everyone: come to the kitchen for Daniel's birthday

Within the broad spectrum of collaboration features IM, in most scenarios, is best used to ask quick short questions, and receive answers to one or a few people. Adding unified communication features it turns into an alternative method to hold meetings and should be looked at as an enabling technology to the personal interactions you have with your co-workers. Even if using an EIM that stores information that is available to search corporate keywords may not find the results that occurred within a common language conversation.

What happens if someone asks "Bob, what if we increase capacity for customer X to 5 widgets, can we make the 130% profit we were looking for..." The answer to that question is not only valuable to you and Bob, but to people in marketing, technology and many other departments throughout your organization. You could e-mail the question with the world copied, but then who reads all of their e-mails? Without proper guidance of where and when to use IM, and other collaboration tools, your intellectual property may be lost.

Join me on February 4that lunchtime (noon ET)  to further examine IM .  Stay with us, as this is the first of six webinars in our social Webinar series where we will walk you through key areas within the collaboration spectrum. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Adam Levithan,

#planning #Adoption #Collaboration #InformationGovernance #enterprisesocial #Collaboration