EMC Documentum has added instant messaging to its eRoom Enterprise collaboration product, claiming improved communication within companies.

Customers can use an existing instant messaging (IM) system to send messages between team members, alleviating the need for slower e-mail and calender setting-based communications.

According to Forrester Research, this is part of a trend: collaborative products are changing from an asynchronous, or store-and-forward, model to a synchronous, faster way of working. Users converse in real time through IM and web conferencing instead of e-mail and document sharing. IM also provides presence awareness which enables faster comunications than pre-arranged team workspaces.

EMC Documentum competes with the big three collaborative software suppliers: IBM, Microsoft and Oracle. Microsoft's Exchange is based on e-mail with Ray Ozzie, founder of Groove Networks, integrating Groove into Office 12, due out next year. IBM is integrating its Workplace product with its Lotus Notes legacy product. Oracle's Collaboration Suite, an e-mail-based product rather than a database-influenced one, has web conferencing but not IM support. Oracle Collaboration Suite 10g will have IM support.

EMC's update also allows content updated or created in Documentum Content Server to have a notification sent to eRoom project teams. Search queries can be made across many information sources through Documentum Enterprise Content Integration (ECI) services. And there are also new "dashboard" services to show team project status visually plus enhanced security for allowing external access to project team data.