When instant messenger applications first emerged back in the 90s they were a big hit. Users took to the real time communications software, gobbling up each improvement such as video chat and file and picture sharing. Even companies have caught on to using these messaging services for office communications. Conferencing and VoIP capabilities have also made them more attractive options. While their usefulness cannot be overstated, how do they stack up to fully integrated web collaboration software?

Limits of IM

Collaborating by IM is no doubt a cost-effective means of getting things done. Despite the availability of more technically advanced options they are still widely used. So much so that third party solutions have emerged to provide archiving solutions for communications of this type. Some typical features of IM software include:

• Conferencing
• Status indicator
• Webcam viewing
• Picture sharing
• File sharing
• Program sharing
• Text chat
• Desktop control
• Saving chat
• Encrypted communication

On the face of it, this may seem like any web conferencing packaging, but there are differences, especially in terms of scale. Some MSN users typically collaborate via Microsoft's NetMeeting, an especially popular choice with people doing it from home. The downside is it is limited in terms of how many users can interact through VoIP at any given time. Video interaction is also limited.

A solution from a conferencing software vendor like RHUB Communications for example can offer universal attendance. Individuals will not be prevented from participating due to problems downloading or installing software.

The Security Factor

It is a well-known fact that hackers often treat IM technology as open doors they can enter at will. Phishing attempts, virus leading links, dangerous attachments, these are all concerns for those using IM technology. With specialized online conferencing software, users can generally expect a secure collaborative environment. This is further enhanced by firewall protection.

Better yet, even if the software is deployed behind the firewall, attendees outside the firewall can still attend meetings. Also, web conferencing devotees who use self-hosted appliances usually find that they are scalable. In other words, they can respond to a company's growing needs for collaboration, webinars or providing support.

The bottom line is IM applications are useful. After all, they are forerunners to netmeeting as it exists today. Realistically however, they can't handle the demands placed on web conferencing solutions available today. For any company serious about a multi-tiered approach to collaboration, exploring web conferencing options is the way to go. IM is handy, but when it comes to getting the most from online meetings, other solutions simply leave them in the dust.

About Author / Additional Info:
Laura Williams is a Freelance Internet Marketing Specialist residing in Kansas City. She uses the 4-in-1 RHUB Remote Appliance for web conferencing and remote access. To learn more about RHUB, please visit www.rhubcom.com