‘Instant’ Messaging (IM or IMing) is an application to shoot an instant text message for ‘Quick questions and clarifications’ and enable rapid information dissemination and decision-making between one or more persons ‘collaborating’. The text is conveyed via devices (also phone) connected over a network such as the Intra/Internet. It is an informal form of knowledge exchange although the actual conversation can be saved for different purposes. IM is also less intrusive, as ‘discussions’ between co-workers are briefer compared with for example phone. Still certain IM clients today also support traditional phone capabilities (VOIP) as well as support of file sharing and webcam. There is a large variety of IM clients and Wikipedia publishes a list of these. One of the key impediments to a large usage today is the compatibility of protocols. The escape is to use a developer with a strong market presence and rich functions. Skype for example started as an internet phone capability and includes now IM as well (see also Application Sharing).
So IM is an ideal tool to quickly consult an ‘online’ coworker regarding a technical challenge. Working with companies we see this technology used as the need for effective knowledge sharing, team working and collaborative environments amongst employees has become vital, especially those teams working in geographically dispersed. Statistics further learns that Tens of millions of the consumer IM accounts in use are being used for business purposes by employees of companies and other organizations. IM adoption usually is a bottom-up evolution as employees adopt these capabilities, sometime against company (compliance) rules.