Presence is not a high priority for many

* Despite benefits, not much interest in extending presence beyond IM

Presence is among the most useful messaging-related technologies because it provides information in real time on the availability of someone you’d like to contact. E-mail and the telephone are very useful communications media, but they provide no clue as to the other party’s availability.

At this point, instant messaging is the only presence application that currently finds wide use in the enterprise; IM is currently used by about one-quarter of all e-mail users in the workplace.

Extending presence into a variety of applications beyond IM is not a high priority for many organizations, according to the 111 people we just surveyed. For example, while the extension of presence into e-mail systems is viewed as “desirable” or “very desirable” by nearly two-thirds of organizations, extending presence into applications like CRM systems, portals or productivity applications is viewed as desirable by fewer than one-half of organizations.

Why so little interest in using presence beyond the context of IM by integrating it into other applications? A key reason is that IT managers and others are simply busy with other priorities, such as messaging security. In the survey we just completed, 72% of respondents said that other priorities are simply more critical right now and are holding back the integration of presence.

Another reason is that many people are not familiar with the advantages that presence can offer. Here are a few examples:

* Integrating a telephone system into a presence infrastructure can provide additional information to users about someone’s availability. While this is a relatively simple example, it can save users a substantial amount of time by letting them know when and when not to call someone.

* Presence, integrated with a corporate directory, can allow users to click on currently available contacts to initiate a telephone call or online session without having to look up phone numbers or other contact information. SiteScape Zon, for example, provides this capability and it allows recipients to determine how they will be contacted based on pre-determined preferences.

* A presence-enabled technical support system can dramatically shorten the amount of time required to respond to customer requests or problems. For example, Vayusphere offers a system that allows employees’ locations and resources to be tracked in real time and combines this with information about employee skill sets and other information. The result is a system that, once a customer request is received, allows a dispatcher or manager to know where his or her people and resources are in real-time, how they each could help solve the problem, and who has the right combination of availability and talent to best address the issue at hand.

These are just a few examples of how presence can solve real-world business problems and make users and organizations more efficient and responsive.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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