Instant messaging set for take off, says Gartner

Instant messaging set for take off, says Gartner

Instant messaging and other collaborative technologies will have a significant impact on the financial services industry over the next three years, according to a new report from Gartner Consulting. The report was commissioned by Reuters.

The research report reveals 86 per cent of financial institutions believe collaborative technologies will be critical to their real-time communication and business process development over the next three years.

Among the vendors who will welcome this news is report sponsor, Reuters, which is midway through a significant investment in its new instant messaging product line, Reuters Messaging. The forthcoming instant messaging product line has assumed a strategic significance in Reuters battle to retain market share against, among others, Bloomberg. Bloomberg's humble email-based messaging capability was seen as a key driver in the success of its financial information products.

The new Gartner report is based on interviews conducted with senior IT executives in 28 global financial organisations to assess the role of collaborative technologies and how financial institutions can harness these to their advantage. Both buy-side and sell-side institutions were represented in the survey.

Seventy-five per cent of financial institutions described their efforts to improve collaboration via IT as important to critical. Over half expect to increase spending in this area over the next two years. The latter finding explains a recent surge in interest from technology vendors large and small in the instant messaging opportunity.

The research shows the top business drivers for deploying collaborative solutions are improving customer service, productivity and efficiency gains. The major barriers identified are user behaviour and resistance to change, ability to demonstrate return on investment and security concerns.

Over half of those interviewed expect the use of instant messaging solutions to grow over the next one to two years. Gartner predicts that by 2005 IM will be integrated into 50 per cent of the applications that businesses use to directly interact with customers. Over 50 per cent are currently using or piloting instant messaging within their organisation and aim to extend this capability externally to reach partners and customers.

Ninety-four per cent of interviewees highlighted ‘presence’, the ability for users to know which of their instant messaging partners are online at any time, as a key feature of IM.

The report also suggests that by 2003 free IM (consumer IM available via the Internet) will be found in 70 per cent of enterprises implemented by end-users without their organisations sanction or support. Gartner warns, however, that financial institutions must avoid the use of free IM and deploy IM technology supported and controlled by the institution.

Ed Cordin, director, Gartner Consulting, says: “Financial organisations need to look now to implement solutions that can be controlled by the enterprise and address issues such as lack of security, absence of auditing and logging facilities, and reliability."

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