Instant two-way text messaging, that ubiquitous medium of Web-surfing and cell-phone-toting teens, isn’t just for socializing anymore. Because of the medium’s immediacy-it’s faster than e-mail but less intrusive than a phone call-“people are increasingly getting hooked on the need for continuous two-way text messaging as a coordination, alerting, and notification mechanism” for conducting business, says James Kobielus, a senior analyst with Burton Group, an e-business analysis firm in Alexandria, VA.In one sign of things to come, new software from MIR3 of San Diego, CA, ties a business’s critical hardware or software into its instant-messaging network. If a Web server crashes or an inventory database shows that supplies are running low, the system can issue text or voice alerts to the proper employees.
To do this, MIR3 invented a “middleware” system that authenticates incoming notices from an organization’s application software, determines who should receive them, and schedules delivery via media the recipients have chosen-from pagers to personal digital assistants. MIR3’s early customers include hospitals, which use the technology to automatically alert nurses whenever, for instance, their patients’ heart monitors register significant changes.
America Online, Microsoft, and Yahoo! have all announced plans to release secure corporate versions of their own popular messaging programs, and companies such as Beverly, MA-based Groove Networks are weaving instant messaging into online “collaboration environments” that could free employees from their physical offices. And that’s something even adults can appreciate.