It’s estimated that 90 percent of businesses already are engaging in some level of instant messaging.  That includes some 25 million U.S. business users who, according to The Yankee Group, are instant messaging on a public network without management’s knowledge or authorization. 
All across the country in offices large and small, unauthorized
The most avid instant messagers download every available IM product, or ‘‘client,’’ so they can communicate internally and externally with any other
 Harry Wessel, ‘‘IM: Two Little Letters Equal a Big Help to Some Businesses,’’ Orlando Sentinel (June 25, 2003), G1.
 Lisa Meyer, ‘‘IM Intrigues the Enterprise: VARs Tasked to Control Disparate Instant-Messaging Implementations,’’ Varbusiness (May 12, 2003), 62.
 Telephone interview with Jonathan Christensen, CTO, Face-Time Communications (October 21, 2003), www.facetime.com.
An internal survey revealed that more than half of the 1,300 employees of regional stock brokerage firm Stifel Nicolas had downloaded free IM software from the Web without management’s knowledge or approval.
Brokers were using IM without the authorization of the firm’s compliance department, which is charged with ensuring that the firm adheres to recently tightened SEC, NASD, and NYSE regulations covering the management, monitoring, and retention of instant messages. 
The government and industry regulators who oversee financial services firms are serious about IM and e-mail compliance. Five Wall Street brokerages were fined $8.25 million for violating SEC e-mail retention rules in 2002. 
Securities firms that
 Dan Orzech, ‘‘Under IT’s Radar, Instant Messaging Invades Corporate Desktops,’’ InstantMessaging Planet (July 14, 2003), www.instantmessagingplanet.com/enterprise/article.php/1120822348711 .
 Nicholas Varchaver, ‘‘The Perils of E-Mail,’’ Fortune ( February 17, 2003), 96.
Think of instant messaging as a hybrid of the telephone and e-mail. IM enables users to hold give-and-take real-time conversations with multiple people, just as the phone does—minus the hassles of phone tag. IM also offers all the capabilities and features of e-mail— at lightning speed.
IM appeals to users’
Added benefits: With IM, you don’t have to sit and wait for a reply, which can take hours if you’re using e-mail. You need not bother sorting through a stack of e-
 Brian Deagon, ‘‘Top Brass Slow to Embrace Instant Messaging Technology—Explaining IM Benefits,’’ Investor’s Business Daily (July 2, 2003).
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