The Presence Payoff

Back in 2000, IM and presence awareness was already a deeply embedded aspect of the workday. My team was deep in the throes of developing a web-based collaboration platform, and using public IM clients to test with a global team. I remember sitting in a hotel room in Tokyo using group chat and VoIP to communicate with my test team, and being amazed at the quality over my dialup connection.

So here we are in 2007, and presence has become an even more integrated part of business tools and processes, whether its chatting with the author of the Word document you just opened, or chatting with a federated list of your friends across public and private platforms. It’s a major feature within Vista and Office 2007. In fact, you won’t realize the full potential of either release until you have both in place. just had a feature article (by Evan Rosen) highlighting some common use cases, but also provides some of the potholes to avoid when planning out an enterprise deployment:

The shift toward real-time collaboration is nudging organizations to accept more spontaneous interaction. For example, being able to switch from an IM to a Web conference to a videoconference on the fly is changing conferencing from a scheduled to a seat-of0the-pants activity.

“Web conferences make more sense in an ad hoc context, whereas before they had to be planned out, laid out, uploaded and then the meeting tended to be more of an event and was, of course, scheduled and prearranged,” says Laurie Heltsley, Proctor and Gamble’s director of computers and communications services.

The most significant impact of presence is that it integrates into people’s work styles. Rather than abandoning work to initiate an interaction, collaborators connect directly from within applications.

“Presence will become, more or less, the focal point of the desktop over time” Heltsley says. “And there are some indicators that we’re going to drive many more things that used to be off the center of the desktop to the center of the desktop via presence. So, for example, video is one of them. Another is application sharing.”

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Servers and Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and CMO of, a blockchain-based video technology company.