In-Depth

IM means immediate money for Australian economy

The Australian Trade Commission (Austrade), a government agency, assists Australian companies in winning business overseas. Recently, it implemented ChatBlazer, an enterprise-class IM software by SilkRoad technology that facilitates real-time communication and helps organizations increase efficiency in their communication processes.

Austrade's business development advisers have used the product to bring in new exporters and provide initial advice via an IM feature on its Web site. During its initial test run in one business unit, Austrade says it achieved immediate results, signing up eight new exporters and delivering real-time service to more than 30 clients within a short time after deployment. As Austrade rolled out ChatBlazer to other business units throughout its organization, it made the IM feature more prominent on the site, driving tremendous use and traffic.

Rodney Gilchrist, business development adviser for Austrade, explains the agency wanted a real-time IM capability to increase the "match making" cycle between Australian suppliers and overseas distributors. There are no security concerns because it's a closed IM environment. "ChatBlazer...has a comprehensive archiving tool that enables sales representatives to retain all the necessary information and ensure delivery of exact customer requests," he says.

Peter Quintas, SilkRoad's chief technology, says when you talk about secure enterprise instant messaging, it doesn't mean it's confined to an intranet or behind the firewall. "One of the qualities of implementing instant messaging in the corporate setting is that it is a closed network with authenticated, named members on the network, and it is not generally available to the public," he says. Companies can also track and audit messages for various elements of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. Further, he adds "our instant messaging encrypts each message end-to-end on the network and is encrypted with a unique session key to the user so that the message is guaranteed to be from who it says it is from."

Quintas says IM is one of many collaboration channels and should be compared to other forms of collaboration, include blogging, surveys, polls, voice/video conferencing, and Web conferencing. "All of these channels...facilitate collaboration given the specific task at hand and location," he says. Optimal collaboration is possible when all of the channels of communication are available and you can move through them seamlessly throughout the day as you move from task to task, he adds.

In fact, Austrade's Gilchrist says his organization is working on moving toward the next level of IM and collaboration with the implementation of audio and video. "This feature would add a personal touch which is crucial in Asia, a region where Austrade has many transactions," he says.

Back to feature: Instant Messaging Is Here to Stay: Deal With It!

About the Author

Alan R. Earls is a technology and business writer based near Boston.

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