Summarizing: “The Presence Spiral”

June 21, 2004

in VoIP

I’ve been looking back over my posts to capture a summary on “presence”, the always-on VoIP factor that radically changes communications

VoIP Wi-Fi and Mobility are converging with “presence” to redefine communications environments. A failure to understand “presence” will lead telephony firms towards disaster. Making sense of presence is poorly defined by conventional distinctions between content delivery and communication. I believe the future of the industry is not making dollars on telephony rather it rests in the service of presence.

The online presence spiral is an interactive experience that is engaging, accessible, immersive – not just IM indicators but sound quality – active cams, mobility etc. VoIP can deliver these emerging functionalities when we throw away the “phone over internet” perspective and develop a “presence formula”.
IM systems introduced us to online presence. Available, away, not available, do not disturb etc. Now these same systems are appearing on mobility devices. With few exceptions, the texting lives separately to the voice. From early IM’s to an emerging crop of simple presence-centric soft communicators (Skype, FireFly, etc.) the writing is on the wall for number centric approaches, whether software or hardware, landline or mobile. Even AOL believes AIM is the phone of the future.

I believe they aren’t even close. The current crop of solutions hasn’t scratched the surface for rich presence systems.

Limit presence to buddylists and we restrict the opportunity. Our sense of presence is framed by real life examples; “you felt their presence as they entered the room (visual). The speaker carried real presence (audio”). Enhancing presence requires an abandonment of traditional audio restrictions, new forms of image sharing, and “contextual” input, not just availability (new ways; where, device type, situation etc.). Context includes ready transfer between devices. Cellphone partnering with Laptop. As presence peels layers away to create richer connections, new solutions will be desired for transparency, privacy etc. Our presence becomes our cloud.

Presence changes the focus from telephones and communications to collaboration and conversations. As connection costs trend to zero, presence-centered communications grow exponentially in an always-on world. Multi-conferencing, persistent rooms, redefine talking and listening into conversations and storytelling webs. Add in mobility and embrace presence in the palm of your hand.

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