Businesses are failing to track and archive information contained in instant messaging (IM) conversations among employees.
According to a survey of 690 IT directors across Europe, the Middle East and Africa by vendor Hitachi Data Systems, only 22 per cent of medium to large UK organisations monitor IM and just nine per cent say they archive IM data.
Failure to record such details could mean that UK firms are not complying with regulations that require auditing of all electronic communications, including email and IM.
The research found that the UK lagged behind many European countries. Spain has the highest rates of scrutiny, with 70 per cent of Spanish IT directors monitoring IM and 63 per cent archiving IM data.
On average, 36 per cent of companies surveyed monitor IM and 26 per cent archive IM data.
IM is one of the world's fastest growing communications tools, expected to surpass email in terms of worldwide traffic by 2006.
Analysts estimate that in many organisations employees are using IM whether or not their bosses are aware of it.
Tony Reid, director of solutions marketing at Hitachi Data Systems, said in a statement: "Part of the reason why companies have been slow to monitor IM may be that it was originally intended as a consumer tool.
"It has unexpectedly caught on among business users because it is a more instantaneous alternative to email which allows a rapid two-way dialogue."
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