Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions: IM in the Enterprise

…Or, “You CAN Get IM Working for You in the Workplace.”

“r u there?”…


Few things frustrate me more than someone who blissfully wastes my time when I’m trying to get work done. So I empathize with Chris Nerney, the capo over at our IT Management channel, who last week detailed the rationale behind his continuing avoidance of instant messaging.

In general, his reasons come down to that fact that Chris seems to have people IMing him who are deficient in either tact, considerateness, or any real knowledge of how business operates today (read: busily).

This is a huge pity, and maddeningly, all too common. I admit that I’m biased after having covered instant messaging and real-time collaboration in a previous gig. But I’ll forever maintain that when used properly, IM can be faster and more efficient than the telephone or e-mail. (Frequent readers will note that the issue of mismanaged workplace IM is managing to become a favorite topic of mine.)

Despite its benefits, it’s exasperating that folks out there still can’t grasp how to use IM in a business context, where in the wrong hands — as Chris experiences firsthand — the potential for annoyance and disruption is sky-high.

It’s been 12 years since ICQ debuted, folks, and it’s time some of our business contacts got with the program.

So: How best are we to deal with those who would abuse our tools for enterprise collaboration? The same way we deal with those who would stroll by our offices, desks and cubicles to while away the hours, obvious to the actual work we’re trying to accomplish: with initial politeness, and then, with gradually mounting disdain.

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