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Presence — Do We Still Need It?

Posted on: February 23rd, 2016 by Max Valerio No Comments


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Do you check for presence when you send a message?   Most likely not, although you generally might glance and see if someone is in the office or not. 

However, unlike a busy signal on a phone, a signal which presence was created to simulate and to complement — anyone can receive a text even if their attention is elsewhere.  Unlike a telephone, they don’t have to pick up the call and be present to receive the entirety of the communication.  The sender can send their entire text and wait for the recipient to reply.  Presence also won’t let someone know if you are at your desk but absorbed in another activity.   Unless it is a meeting that’s scheduled on your calendar and presence is synced with your calendar.  Skype for Business syncs calendared meetings with presence and this can prove useful.  However, even this feature is not foolproof.  You can be in the office, yet be doing other things and not able to pay attention to an incoming message for a long period of time and presence will not always detect this.

Being in the Know is always Useful

Certainly, no one wants or needs all of their activities to be immediately accessible to everyone and anyone who pays attention, but in the office or while engaging in business while mobile, it is often useful for collaborators and colleagues to be in the know.   Presence can sometimes be used to route a call to a mobile phone instead of a business desk phone if a person is in a meeting at their desk and not able to answer, or out of the office and working remotely.  In contact centers, calls can be taken by the next available agent and also the most suitable agent, as defined by agent profiles informing presence.

Voice and Presence

One of the issues that presence is having now is that it was created specifically with voice in mind and many younger users are not using voice as much to communicate.  So there is something quietly antiquated about its founding model.  I happen to think voice is not necessarily down for the count, and that once voice quality on calls becomes universally improved, more people will come back to voice because of its immediacy and direct impact.  However, there are those that think presence may not survive as people have come to rely more on texts instead of voice calls to communicate.

Remote Workers and Multimodal Messaging

However, without a doubt, presence remains a useful tool and can still provide important information even as we often use many modes of communication at the same time, dividing our attention and our presence among many devices or channels.  As more workers are mobile or remote, presence enables their colleagues to know where they are.   Presence can evolve to understand how to inform people more about a user’s attention or even their skillset.

Training is Key

Certainly, presence must adapt and become a more feature rich solution, a smarter solution.  Yet many features that are now available are not always used to their full benefit.  Policies and training in companies should be implemented to make sure that workers are aware of presence and understand what information it can convey and how it can be used most productively.

Evolving Features and Intelligent Presence

Presence is always evolving.  Now, we can see if and when our texts are delivered and read on our smart phones.  We can also see who has left a group conversation and who lingers.  There is still useful information to be gleaned from presence so the naysayers may be premature in their dismissal of its future.   It could tell us even more with additional features and the ability to build on previous intelligence about any given user.   That is once presence becomes more intelligent it can convey more useful information.

Since some user information will always be sensitive, or just not equally useful to all members of an organization, rules need to be in place so that when someone clicks on a name, information isn’t released to the wrong person.  Similarly pertinent information should be available to certain individuals.   When UC presence is implemented in an organization, profiles can be created that account for different use cases and that change as users change their roles or information needs.  Presence must become more dynamic, anticipating the needs of users, even as it becomes more feature rich.

Presence is a feature that needs to remain secure and trustworthy, since many rely on it to know if a worker is logged in and working efficiently say – in a call center.   That use will not go away any time soon as logging in was one of the first and most necessary forms of presence.

ATI Connect is here to help your company or organization navigate presence and other dynamic UC solutions.  Contact us today to find out more.

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