Connecting with people can be complicated. We’ve all used the shotgun approach of calling multiple phone numbers, and we’ve all experienced overflowing voice mail boxes and lost email. What a waste of time and energy for people and lost productivity for companies!
Presence is the ability of a person or device to communicate with others and to display levels of availability. IM has introduced us to presence. From buddy lists, we can see whether colleagues and others are available. Now devices from videoconferencing systems to phones are becoming presence-enabled along with business productivity software and enterprise applications including customer relationship management (CRM). Presence is a key collaboration enabler, because we can easily view the availability of colleagues and connect in real time using text, voice or video as appropriate.
Microsoft Business Division President Jeff Raikes predicted yesterday that within three years more than 100 million people will be able to make phone calls from Microsoft Office applications including Word, Outlook and SharePoint. The idea is to let us break free from “voice mail jail and telephone tag.” Raikes also announced that Microsoft will begin public beta testing later this month of Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and Office Communicator 2007.
Incidentally, Jeff provided a back-cover quote for The Culture of Collaboration book. How enterprises can create value through presence-enabled applications and devices is a theme that comes up repeatedly in my book.