Over the years, Instant Messaging (IM) has become a staple in communications. Looking back in time, did you know that IM originated in the mid-1960s. Multi-user operating systems were essentially the start of IM. The ability to communicate to others logged into the same machine became useful. Fast-forward to the 1980-1990s, when Commodore 64 computers offered online messaging with the collaboration of Quantum Links online service. They were later known as America Online. In 2000, a new open messaging and presence platform called XMPP (Jabber) was introduced. IM clients have since evolved to incorporate other modalities such as video, voice, web-conferencing, and desktop sharing.

The adoption and exponential growth of IM in the business environment has also posed new risks. Most companies use IM as a form of communication, both internally and externally. Although utilizing IM allows for more collaborative ways to interact with others and increase productivity, knowing the content, origin, and destination of these messages is just as important. Depending on the industry that your organization falls under, you may be obligated to comply with specific government regulatory mandates. Companies in Financial Services, Healthcare, Government, and Education have been affected the most by communication compliance mandates.

When it comes to business communications, the higher the risk, the more mandates are enforced. IM is considered correspondence according to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act instituted in 2002. This Act is focused on protecting against accounting scandals. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act is focused on healthcare. These are just a couple of examples of legislation mandating organizations to enact a communication compliance plan.

A solid compliance plan includes IM archiving and the ability to make records searchable and easily discoverable. How does it all work? Archived IM conversations are displayed using the same interface as voice and video recordings. All of these interactions are archived together, and IM sessions are searchable as rich text/HTML. This offers the timeline view of complex conversations where the session starts with IM and is escalated into a call, providing a comprehensive trail of interactions for compliance purposes. Additionally, multiple years of records can be archived and stored in order to comply with different mandates.

Companies can perform internal audits of communication interactions. Conducting internal audits allows you to monitor and correct any improper behaviors. It is most beneficial if you correct internal issues before an outside Audit is performed. Not only is it important to have the archived record, it is just as important to keep your team performing within the regulatory guidelines that affect your organization.

“Instant Messaging.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Jan. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant_messaging.