Presence is the means by which employees may keep track of what one another are doing/get in touch with one another successfully and quickly. In other words, if you need to get in touch with a co-worker, should you use the phone or email? If you decide to use the phone, should you call the person’s office number, home number or cell number? Presence seeks to sort out these questions and make the answer clear. This is usually done through a GUI or interface such as Fonality’s HUD, which tracks when someone is available (or even busy), uses instant messaging, and can even defer to a number better suited to contact if they are not at their desk.
The use of presence can serve to be a great tool, but it truly relies on the dedication of employees to constantly update their status and information the moment a change occurs. Additionally, it can start to create a natural flow which a business can thrive upon – almost like a natural, circadian rhythm. That is, everyone begins to notice that Sarah in Purchasing is unavailable from 1-2 since she is out to lunch, or to call Jeff in Sales on his cell phone between the hours of 9 to 11, etc.
Presence also provides a new “secret handshake” for calls and dealing with customers, allowing employees to communicate even when their lines are tied up. The emergence of presence is due greatly to the fact many people employ more than one communication mechanism. As mentioned previously, presence maintains real-time information about a person’s availability. Thus, it is possible for presence-enabled applications to make intelligent decisions about how to contact a person based on what the application knows about the person’s availability. Privacy issues with presence are totally moot, since it is typically user controlled and managed.