How Much Does Instant Messaging (IM) Cost for Business?

“Instant.”
 
Sounds nice, right?
 
These days we business-folk just can’t keep our hands off of technology solutions that give us immediate access to information we need, and that help us stay connected to our (sometimes quite distant) coworkers in real time. This is precisely why instant messaging platforms are gaining more and more traction in the corporate world.
 
While the overall trend is still in its early stages, we at Optimal are already hearing question after question about how organizations can get their hands on an instant messaging package, and how much it will cost them.
 
We’ll work through the standard feature of these solutions below, along with the price ranges you’ll likely encounter should you choose to implement.
 

What is a business-grade instant messaging solution?

This isn’t your standard public, consumer-oriented AOL Instant Messenger; today, there are many products on the market that are specifically designed to be used in a corporate setting.
 
You’ll see variations in specific features, but packages that are up to snuff will offer these main benefits:

1. Your cLyncontacts are limited to your coworkers. Instead of swimming in a sea of the 300 million Skype users, a business-grade instant messaging service will be customized to your organization and the people in it. (It will likely be up to your IT resource to keep this list current as your workforce changes, along with overall maintenance.)

2. You get a real sense of community. Even if half of your team is on-site with clients (as ours is on a daily basis), you’ll all stay connected—visually and technologically—within your IM platform. And, with the “presence” feature, you’ll be able to see who in your organization is online and available to talk, who is away from their computer, and who is offline and unavailable altogether.

3. It integrates with your email system. Did your casual conversation turn into a really valuable exchange of information? Did it include items that you’ll need to act upon after you close out of the chat window? Just save a copy of the conversation into your email folders, and you’ll have it on hand for your reference.

 

What’s the average price range for instant messaging services?

On average, instant messaging packages will cost you roughly $4 to $7 per person per month.
 
The highest you’ll probably encounter is $10 per person per month for the most robust offerings, which may include features such as:

  • Multi-party video chat
  • Application sharing
  • Whiteboarding sessions
  • Technical support

While you could certainly sign your whole office up for free Skype accounts, you won’t see any of the benefits outlined above; your solution won’t be centrally-managed, it won’t be specific to your business, and it’s generally difficult to enforce across your workforce.
 
Even at its most expensive, however, these solutions really aren’t expensive at all—especially given the value they can add to your internal communications and general feeling of togetherness.
 
Not only that, but implementation and maintenance are fairly straightforward as well.
 
So, if you’re at all interested in the concept, we encourage you to take a look at what’s out there and see how you like it. We, for one, have been using an instant messaging solution for years now, and you won’t see us ditching it any time soon.

Hoping to implement an instant messaging solution inside your business? Having  a hard time making the selection? Let us know--we can help.