Everyday, people use presence by relying on a little color icon that changes color from green to yellow to red (iChat, Gchat, etc). Presence information refers to any status indicator that conveys the ability and willingness of a person to communicate.
Presence has been one of the main innovations driving the popularity of instant messaging clients. In fact, most consumers are probably already very familiar with common presence states such as “free for chat”, “away”, “busy”, “out to lunch” or any of the many variations that exist across the different IM clients.
Where does VoIP Telephony come in?
A presence indicator can be compared to the “on-hook” and “off-hook” states of a telephone. Green and red indicators correspond with the distinctive tones indicating availability and unavailability, respectively. Although this analogy is inexact--telephone status shows the availability of the network connectivity for reaching a called number, and not whether the user is available--one can easily see the advantage of having a presence indicator that tracks phone status. By allowing calling parties to know the availability status (free/busy tone) of their communication partners before trying to initiate the conversation, more effective and efficient communication can be attained.
Presence, Unified Communication, and Business: The present and future
Today, presence is one the main driving factors behind unified communications, a force that is changing what it means to do business. In the past, companies typically frowned on telecommuting workers because there was no real way to ensure they were on task as there was no unobtrusive way for managers to supervise them. The higher-ups also worried about losing the “water cooler effect”, the name given to the productivity increase that occurs when coworkers happen to bump into each other and unintentionally exchange progress reports, and reminders about deliverables and deadlines.
With presence as a part of OnSIP 2.0’s unified communication platform, these problems of yesterday are solved. Through our user interface, everyone within a business phone network will be able to see which of his or her coworkers are available, on the phone or in a meeting. Giving employees more insight into the availability of their coworkers—whether they’re working at a remote office, from home, or right next door—increases productivity. This ‘presence effect’ extends the ‘water cooler effect’ to your entire business, encouraging communication and information exchange. The result is precise communication that all but eliminates the inefficiency of phone tag or email messaging while at the same time giving employees more flexibility to set up meetings and conference calls on the fly.