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Reg Readers on Collaboration

IM is hot, video conferencing is definitely not

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Reg Reader Studies Yet again, The Register readers have helped us bust through some of the hype that exists in the industry. Over 3,400 of you responded to the last reader survey on collaboration and some of things you told us were pretty interesting.

Firstly, the obvious stuff.

Not surprisingly, e-mail was regarded as a business critical application by over 70 per cent of respondents, with most of the rest saying that it was important. It was also no surprise that the vast majority of organisations make use of information repositories of one kind or another to share information internally, though a bit more interesting to see 30 per cent of you telling us that these repositories have now been opened up to customers, partners, and so on for external access. It seems as if some of the portal technology such as Sharepoint and Workplace that is designed particularly for internal and extranet use, is taking root.

Turning to more real-time collaboration, the picture is mixed with traditional telephone conferencing. About half of respondents overall told us they used telephone conferences frequently in place of face to face meetings, though usage was skewed towards larger organisations who are more likely to have the necessary internal infrastructure in place. This points to a clear need for cost effective services from the likes of BT, for example, whose charges for teleconferencing services are higher than many smaller businesses are willing to pay.

Disappointingly for many enthusiastic vendors, the picture for video conferencing is extremely bad (forgive the pun). Many larger corporates have invested in dedicated video conferencing suites, but they just sit there gathering dust in 60 per cent of cases, with very little usage. Respondents also made it clear that the jury is still out on the relevance and user experience of desktop conferencing.

But instant messaging (IM) is becoming hot for business use, with a surprisingly high 40 per cent of organisations now formally accepting its use and about another quarter acknowledging more ad hoc adoption by users. And distribution of activity is quite an eye-opener also. Adoption is polarised, with high levels of use in the very large organisations who have been investing in enterprise class IM facilities, and small organisations working under a relatively relaxed IT regime in which public IM services may be used freely.

There's lots more details and some other interesting stuff on push-to-talk mobile services, use of integrated desktop collaboration tools, and which types of communication people regard as being part of the formal record, so please download your copy of the report here.

In the meantime, picking up on what you told us about the criticality of email to most businesses, we have just kicked off another study drilling down on this and looking at email delivery, support and migration. As always, we would be really interested in your views.

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