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IM for Business

Choosing an Enterprise IM for Your Work Life

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Businesswoman in her office, busily working at her laptop computer
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While instant messaging is a brilliant way to keep in touch with family and friends, IM is finding new-found application as a commerce-building tool in today’s workplace. In addition to opening lines of communication between departments and associates throughout a company, instant messaging also helps streamline customer service.

Interested in finding the perfect instant messaging client for your business? Here are just a handful of the great IM clients open for business-use, also known as enterprise IMs:

  • 24im: Taking notes from the success of public web-based IMs, this enterprise IM offers both browser-based web access as well as a standalone client available for download. In addition to an encrypted IM experience offering basic features, 24im also includes guest access for web conferencing or customer service use. Free, when hosted on 24im’s server; licensing fee of $150 when set-up on your own server. Requires Windows 2000 and above.

  • AIM Pro: Billed as a robust communications tool built for the busy professional. In addition to offering the same quality product as its AOL Instant Messenger sister, AIM Pro also features secure, encrypted IM to help meet the highest IT department standards, video conferencing and online meeting facilitation, and file sharing. Additionally, the client offers integration with Microsoft Outlook, which allows AIM Pro users to send and receive email without having Outlook open. Offered free of charge at AIM Pro’s website. Requires free AIM Pro screenname, Windows 2000 or above.

  • Big Ant: Much like its name might suggest, this little enterprise IM can do big things for your business. Big Ant is feature-rich, including offline messaging, web conferencing, file transferring and multi-department organization on the contacts list. Compliance to company policies is also assured with key word filtering, real-time content auditing and extensive IT supports. Free trial offered on their website; free license available for up to 10 users. Requires Windows, except Windows 9x.

  • BitWise Professional: Touting an affordable, secure IM with business, BitWise features IM, text messages, the ability to transfer files, hold conferences complete with a whiteboard, make free voice calls anywhere in the world, and more. Free 30-day trial offered on their website. Licenses available starting at $2 per user.

  • Brosix: Offering secure IM for companies and organizations, Brosix allows users to create their own personal IM network featuring strong encryption and a multitude of collaboration features perfect for businesses big or small. An administration console helps IT professionals manage their company's IM network with this easy-to-use client. Brosix is also advertisement free, making this client a solid IM client for professional use. A 30-day trial is available for up to 10 users licenses. Requires Windows 2000 and above, 128 MB Ram, 50 MB disk space, 800 MHz CPU or higher and an Internet connection.

  • Effusia: Recently upgraded with the release of Effusia 4.4.2, this client offers businesses the flexibility of IM while maintaining rigorous security standards. In addition to a centralized administration setting which makes control of your business IM communications easy, Effusia also features advanced IM logging, IM tabbing, multi-user chats, support for non-latin languages and offline messaging. Twenty day free trial offered on their website. Requires Windows 2000 and above.

  • Spark: Jive Network’s enterprise IM is a perfect match for businesses looking for control while maintaining a flexible IM experience. In addition to standard features such as group chat, VoIP integration, in-line spell checking, chatrooms and IM tabbing, Spark (paired with Jive’s Openfire server) offers one of the strongest, security-laden business IMs in the industry. Easy downloads available on their website. Available on Windows, Linux and Mac platforms.

Know of a good enterprise IM not listed here? Email Brandon De Hoyos, your Guide to IM on About.com, at im@aboutguide.com or consider posting about your favorite enterprise IM on our IM Forums.

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