Businesses sending 1 billion IMs daily

Home users are helping turn instant messaging into a business collaboration tool.

Jo Best Special to CNET News.com
It's official: Instant messaging is the new e-mail for the world's businesses.

According to a new report from analyst house IDC, instant messaging is now a standard piece of the corporate communication toolkit, with about 1 billion IMs sent every day between 28 million enterprise users.

Consequently, the analysts predict, the value of the enterprise IM market will continue to increase for at least the next five years. IDC is now forecasting that the market for business IM--worth $315 million last year--will grow to $736 million in 2009.

Growth in the enterprise segment is all thanks to IM crossover from consumer use to office use, according to the report, with home users of MSN Messenger and the like now ready to turn instant messaging into a business collaboration tool.

Sectors particularly keen to take up enterprise IM include financial services and the public sector, where business IM monitoring and archiving tools play well to industries concerned about financial and workplace compliance.

Jo Best of Silicon.com reported from London.