How Presence is Changing the Way We Communicate

May 25, 2010 - 5 Comments

Presence information is changing how we communicate with each other at Cisco. Presence makes it readily apparent when people are available.  A simple change that means alot less time playing the phone tag game.  Time… which is a precious resource in today’s fast paced business environment

You probably know how Presence works from using instant messaging. When other people have their IM client turned on, you can see that they’re available for chat. At Cisco, the Presence status tells me whether the person is logged on, or on the phone, or in a meeting—and people can carve out time to concentrate on a task by setting their Presence to “Do not Disturb”. All of the information that we choose to share is made possible by communications between our Cisco Unified Presence server and the Cisco Unified Communications Manager,  WebEx Connect in the cloud, and our Exchange servers.

Presence data becomes even more powerful when we can combine it with additional information about people, like where they’re working from (Location) or what team they’re on (Business Network) or what topics they are passionate about (Expertise tagging). A lot of times, you just want your questions answered by anyone who is knowledgeable and available. Combining an expert database with Presence information not only lets me find the person(s) with the answer needed, but more importantly which person is available to provide that person soonest.  This is one way a company improves it’s agility when the entire workforce has this capability.

I can see presence information when I’m using Cisco Unified Personal Communicator or Cisco WebEx Connect; these solutions integrate IM and telephony services.  This provides a single communications tool where based on Presence information I can intuitively decide how best to reach my co-workers and easily do so.  I have a unified interface which offers a rich set of options that let’s me easilyeasy connections with other employees.

What I like the most about seeing presence information is that it helps me to work more effectively. I know when people are available, and when they aren’t.  Conversely, others have the same awareness about my availability.  I can more quickly identify and involve the right people to help me with my tasks.  And as I review how my daily interactions has changed, I see those same changes apparent in others I work with.  Rich presence information has fundamentally improved how individuals and teams coordinate and organize our activities.  Bottom line: I spend less time dealing with the frustration of how to get hold of others and use that time in more meaningful activities.   That not only benefits my blood pressure, it also improves my productivity and value to the company. 


And, I have found that the richer the information I have about what I’m doing and what others around me are doing, the better we are able to make decisions about how to bring the right people and resources together for the team to perform at a higher level.

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  1. Privacy respect will always be a paramount issue as technology makes it easier and easier to gather data about what people are doing. There is however a balance between personal privacy (such as on twitter, facebook, et al) and reasonable expectations when we’re looking at these in the work environment. Businesses will need to closely evaluate the goals of the company and decide where to drawn that line (taking into account a host of influences such as legal, regulatory, cultural and compliance constraints).

  2. I like Presence that has the ability for ME to set it as I’m not available now. Why? None of your business.”” Without it, it’s just too intrusive.The Presence Teh is talking about has that feature.”

  3. I agree with Skeeter. With twitter, facebook, foursquare and all the rest, it makes it easy for people to always know where you’re at and what you’re doing. Kind of scary in a way.

  4. Right there with you. It’ll be a balancing act going forward to draw the line between the company/others should be able to see vs what the individual wishes to publish about his/her real-time status. I’m encouraged that the starting point for business solutions pretty much mirror the norm in the consumer IM space. That is, the individual can manually adjust their availability and customize privacy settings as needed. If you need to concentrate for an hour or so. You can set yourself to unavailable. Worst case, just log out. It’s no different than turning off your cellphone to get some quiet.

  5. I hate the idea that people need to know where you are every min. It is hard enough getting your job done with out people bothering you every min.