Planning for ‘Presence’

Another VoIP Scenario?

“Presence will happen application by application,” he said, “but it will be a silo approach. You will have presence with IM, with voice, and with collaborative applications, but they won’t initially be all tied together.”

Some of the verticals where presence is taking off bear this assessment out.

“Support call centers, where you have an 800 number for inbound calls, are ripe for presence,” Antepo’s Seguineau said. “It’s a cost center. People in there do not create revenue.”

He noted that in many support situations there is a lot of wasted time. With a software product, for instance, if you call the technician and you have to reboot your computer, that technician will typically wait on the line serving you with nothing else to do.

With a presence-enabled system in place, those techs could be answering IM messages of a less critical nature, boosting productivity. However, this would be a specific call-center application, which is presence enabled. In the near term, it wouldn’t extend to things like mobile voice and traditional email.

“The workforce composed of knowledge workers has not been optimized in the way that, say, the manufacturing workforce has,” Seguineau said.

He contends that knowledge workers spend as much as 15% of their time searching for unavailable colleagues or content. They wait for documents to be signed off on, they get mired in voicemail and the sending of repetitious emails, or they go looking for content that someone else has tied up.

“To use a computer term, this is latency in the business process,” he said. “The goal with presence is to create a real-time infrastructure.”

Jabber’s Hildebrand refers to this concept as “extended presence,” noting that presence could influence the very way future applications are structured.

“We’re creating forms-based services,” he said. “These applications are semi-structured in how they operate, so if I need someone to sign off on a purchase order, presence is a key feature in that form.”

The application itself would show users who is available to sign off on a key document and it would be able to prioritize that process in the other person’s workflow, interrupting a low-priority phone call, for instance.

In the end, the business case for presence centers on efficiency, but until a coherent, standards-based, cross-platform approach comes along CIOs should be cautious when committing to presence-enabled applications.

Interoperability, legacy support, and security are all concerns, and, today, the solutions to those problems vary from vendor to vendor and are not always compatible.