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Instant messaging (IM) looks set for a seat at the high table of enterprise technology debates. In November, IDC released its IM report which showed how the technology is likely to experience compound annual growth rates, in the enterprise, of 140 per cent over the next few years. This will give IM technologies almost 180 million corporate users by 2004 - generating a staggering 2 trillion messages per year.

IM, if applied correctly, can do an awful lot for an organisation. It cuts time, increases communication, and serves as a catalyst for a whole new generation of connected individuals. That, however, is only the internal benefit. Incorporate IM into your online sales processes, and you can tap into a whole new batch of benefits. And these could generate revenues, which will undoubtedly keep the FD happy.

A new report from Basex claims that IM tools can significantly reduce the number of discarded shopping trolleys which litter ecommerce sites. The firm reckons that, through the incorporation of services such as IM, could add around $20 billion per year revenues to the coffers of ecommerce player. Far fetched? Probably. But there is a point.

You can put a salesperson alongside the customer to coax him or her through the process, answer any questions and, ultimately, close the sale. Such practice would, or could, be quickly usurped by VoIP (voice over IP) applications enabling a salesperson to talk to the customer rather than type to them, but still it offers a potential revenue boost. ®

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