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People Value Presence

By presence we mean knowing that somebody is available is if they were present. Colleagues in the office seem more engageable because we can see their availability, or the lack of it, and determine how interruptible they are. For those away from the office either on travel, in the field, or in a home office a common complaint is that people don’t contact them. Around a building when people are away from their desks we could contact people with a mobile phone but don’t because we don’t know if they are in a meeting. We could use corporate instant message tools if they are at a desk or SMS as a slightly more polite form of interruption, and the under 30s often do, but for good reasons, many don’t use SMS or mobile phones in general because the recipient may be in a meeting.

To some extent people can be encouraged to use SMS more often but there is still a strong need for presence to indicate if people are available. We can have people’s calendars but that misses the point. It is their availability that presence information tells us. The setting and delivery of the information preferably should be a mobile device.

In a corporate environment we don’t want to be mixing with many of the existing social networks and firewalls prevent use of commonly available tools so until more professional tools, possibly LinkedIn or Skype are offering the kind of presence / status information that face book provides we need to encourage the use of SMS without presence information and look out for tools like Skype and LinkedIn or others providing it on portable devices. Some major corporations are using internal messaging applications but a are generally lacking mobile integration due to cost. The business need is strong and the functionality will break out from the current implementations on mobile phones of Facebook integration or the Microsoft Live tools currently in the consumer market out into tools more acceptable in the corporate market.

What tools are you seeing people using in an office environment?

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