I have been using OpenFire for only a few days now trying out the best solution for our business for internal applications and stuff. I have to say by far that OpenFire was worth the download and non-painful install. I love this thing! I am getting a little curious with the Spark Plugin for OpenFire and want to promote the use of instant messeging in a business fashion. One major question I know that will arise is what are the benefits of using a secure and internal instant messeging program. Currently people are using yahho, trillian, or msn and I want to put an end to their communications outside of work and allow effective communications internally. Just the major question here is why should we use instant messaging opposed to picking up the phone or emailing the person. I mean I have my answer to this but I need other feedback just so I can walk into the presidents office and say look use this now!
Openfire and its client Spark, allows secured managed chat. You can control who has access and to what extent. When you are connecting out to chat services you risk outside intrusion in your network, the transmission of confidential information to outside sources, the increased bandwidth to the internet that you pay for, loss of productivity due to chats with friends (non-coworkers), etc.
We rolled this product out across offices in 9 states. It has led to more effective interoffice communication for quick queries, especially during meetings (buzzing cell phones are still disruptive). Plus added features as screen capture and file transfer help with tech support issues and data sharing in general. This also allows for instant communication at no cost from outside the company offices.
Just to scratch the surface.
Instant messaging is more effective with quick questions and quick answers, than email. E.g. “Are you there?” “Yes” “Cool, wait, i’ll come”, etc. This chat will take much longer via email and will create a bunch of useless emails in your inbox/trash. Also it shows you presence. So without IM you pickup the phone and start calling, wait, wait, it seems that the person is not at the desk. With IM you will see that person with “Away” status, so you won’t waste your time trying to call. Also, in Spark you can right click any Idle or Offline contact and select “Alert when available”, so Spark will bring new chat tab up, when that person goes online.
When you are connecting out to chat services you risk outside intrusion in your network, the transmission of confidential information to outside sources, the increased bandwidth to the internet that you pay for, loss of productivity due to chats with friends (non-coworkers), etc.
On the other hand people will start to chat (off job topic) with co-workers if you block their external IM Though, such internal chat system could be a good thing for team work. Chatting is fun, even with co-workers.
Another plus for an internal IM system is that you can control the structure, you can create groups defined by your departments and hierarchy.
One of the primary reasons that we have started doing testing with it is to help cut down on supurfluous conversational emails that take up fairly valueable email archive server space (not to mention it’s annoying carrying on real-time email conversations). It’s also convenient if someone is on the phone and they want to grab a quick piece of information from someone, or send a quick message.
If you haven’t already, set domain policies that allow only a select few to have admin (ex. installation) rights on domain computers, create a set of images for your standard business computer (using Altiris, Norton Ghost, True Image, etc.) that has only the programs that are approved, proceed to re-image all the computers.
Thanks everyone for the quick responses. I pretty much had those reasons all down in my head but it was hard to write down in a proposal. Everyone did a great job at attacking the question from both sides as it made it easier for me to trash the the idea of using email and phone systems as the only communications tool. The only sad thing now is i have to delete the gateway plugin and not allow people to get to the outside world lmao! Good job people, i gave you all some points for this and hope to hear from you guys when im in need again.