AOL is apparently working on putting encryption in their AIM instant messaging product. This is a good thing. I've used AIM now to communicate with friends, family, and co-workers for a couple of years. There are times when IM is better than the phone or email--conveying an added sense of immediacy without requiring your undivided attention as a phone conversation does.
While the current product suits my needs pretty well on base functionality, I'd hesitate before endorsing it as a corporate tool. In addition to the need protect the contents of message with encryption, a coporate tool needs:
- the ability to use the company's LDAP directory for accounts and passwords
- better methods of finding who's available
- logging and monitoring of messages
- filtering capabilites for viruses
Given these features, I think IM would be a useful addition to our enterprise and I'd endorse it. For now, it will remain experimental.