Dave Becker outlines the IM presence issue well - i.e. the ability to see that other people are online, and available to collaborate. He states that "for now, presence is limited to basic and often error-prone status-reporting tools used in IM clients, plus a few cutting-edge experiments to integrate IM and e-mail systems." However, "true presence, where everybody who needs to contact you knows where you are and what you're doing, is years off and requires surmounting a host of technical, business and behavioral challenges. "
Hmmm....both IBM and Microsoft are hot on this concept (which should have us all at least a little bit concerned), with Microsoft integrating some presence awareness into their Sharepoint and Longhorn products, and IBM into their Sametime app.
"presence systems have to work as automatically as possible, Stratton said. "The system needs to intelligently pull together signals from a lot of different sources." It needs to be able to look at your calendar, determine whether your cell phone is off or on, know which Bluetooth system you're connected to. "It's not a signal from a single environment that helps a system work," he said.
Microsoft's Pall agreed. "We need to make it as automatic as possible," he said. "If presence becomes another thing that I have to actively manage as part of my work, people will not use it as much as they could."
The issue is not going to be communication within one app or one system (Windows) but in interoperability with other systems and apps. Adherence to the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) standard, which allows voice and Internet Protocol (IP) systems to work together, and the SIP for Instant Messaging (SIMPLE) to settle compatibility problems, may be the solution. But its still too early to tell. You know how these standards bodies work...