Instant Messaging Rules Takes the Position That Instant Messaging Is a Form of E-Mail

Instant Messaging Rules Takes the Position That Instant Messaging Is a Form of E-Mail

The rules, policies, and guidelines offered in this book are intended to help organizations manage the business, legal, regulatory, and security risks that surround IMas written correspondence—a form of turbocharged e-mail.

Don’t Get Left Behind by Tech-Savvy Employees

There is no doubt that workers—not management—are driving the instant messaging revolution. IM is emerging as the communications tool of choice among workers who are eager for rapid realtime chat.

Unfortunately, in many offices, the strategic management of IM lags well behind its actual use. When it comes to instant messaging, there is often a technological rift between employees who rely on IM for speedy business communications, and executives who mistakenly dismiss IM as a teenage fad. Consequently, the business, legal, and technological challenges surrounding IMhave been slow to develop as hot-button topics for some corporate decision makers.

In some cases, senior executives and IT managers are simply unaware that their employees are already using IM at work. In other cases, employers are aware of renegade IM use, but have not put IM-related rules, policies, and tools into place to control the risk of litigation and other disasters. In still other cases, IT budgets are too small to deal with IM, so management has made a conscious decision to close their eyes to it—for now.

IM Rule # 2: Take control of instant messaging risks today, or face potentially costly consequences tomorrow.

Perhaps these ill-prepared employers are waiting for high-profile IM-related disasters to strike other hapless organizations before taking control of IM use and abuse in their own offices. Maybe they have yet to be convinced that an investment in IM management is worthwhile. Perhaps they are still so busy trying to manage employee e-mail and Internet use that they can neither find the time nor muster up enough senior-level interest to address the ‘‘ emerging’’ technology that is instant messaging.

Whatever the reason for inaction, one fact is clear: Employers who fail to manage IM today risk challenges that include breaches in security and privacy, legal claims and regulatory fines, and decreased employee productivity—all potentially costly problems.

The Instant Message Jinni Is Out of the Bottle

Industry estimates peg unauthorized workplace IM use at 80 to 90 percent. This means that, in any given office, nearly every employee using IM is doing so without management’s knowledge, without written rules and policies to guide usage, and without IT-approved technology to help prevent security breaches and control overall risk.

A Note About the Real-Life E-Disaster Stories in This Book

Because of the relatively recent entry of instant messaging into the workplace, we don’t yet have many headline-making real-life IM disaster stories or workplace lawsuits that have been triggered by an incriminating instant message. Given the rapid growth of corporate IM use, however, there is sure to be no shortage of such fiascoes in the near future.

For now, this book will draw on both e-mail and IM disaster stories. Culled from America’s courtrooms and newsrooms, these humorous and instructional e-disasters help bring to life the potentially costly risks inherent in workplace e-communications—and what those risks may mean to business as IM assumes a more prominent role in the technology mix.

As growing numbers of corporations begin to suffer through inevitable and potentially costly litigation triggered by employee IM use, and as corporate IM blunders start to generate embarrassing media coverage, CEOs, CIOs, lawyers, and compliance officers will start to look for tools to help reduce IM risks—and perhaps even prevent a few disasters.