A study carried out by Manchester Business School on behalf of Telewest Business has found that just one third of UK businesses provide their staff with instant messaging technology. Of the companies which used instant messaging, 58 per cent said that it provided a benefit to the business. Instant access, speed and easy of use were cited as the main benefits by 71 per cent of users.

Instant messaging tools such as Yahoo! Instant Messenger and MSN Messenger have proven massively popular with consumers, but UK businesses have yet to fully exploit the technology’s advantages. Margaret Bruce, director of corporate business research at Manchester Business School said “Organisations should look to have a good mix of technology available, to avoid having all their staff pinned to email or glued to the phone. Flexibility is key, as well as the ability to match the right communications channel to the business objective or operational activity.”

Research in Motion this month announced a deal with Yahoo! to ship the company’s widely used Instant Messenger software on its popular Blackberry mobile email devices later this year. Users will be able to see which of their contacts are currently available with a live ‘buddy list’ and then send and receive instant messages with them. The company also intends to support AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ instant messaging services.

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