All I want for Christmas is less Presence

Typically, blog posts by nerds like myself focus on what’s coming and better uses for what we have. I have one technology that might need to be reined in just a bit. Presence.

I’ve used presence in one form or another for decades, all the way back to DND, Make Busy, and Ready buttons on a call center phone with more features than it needed.

Recently I was tagged to present a couple of webinars. The first was called ‘Presence and Accounted For’. It focused on the value of presence in a contact center and extending that to the rest of the enterprise. Good attendance, good questions. But one comment stood out from the rest.

A contact center manager indicated he had agents leaning on presence to find a person instead of trying to solve the problem themselves. The results, call handle times in his center were down. That’s good. The amount of code coming out of his development group was also down. That’s bad.
The original idea was to make it easier for the contact center to draw in those pockets of knowledge and expertise to assist with customer service. But with the window into the development group that presence had opened, agents were finding available resources just to transfer the call. They remedied the issue by limiting who could be seen by certain groups and better tracking of transfers, but his comment was that early on ‘We had too much presence’.

Last week I co-presented a webinar with Microsoft. The topic was about using OCS in the contact center to provide better customer service. The Microsoft section had 24 content slides. 12 of the slides, that’s close to half, had presence as a talking point.

Desktop presence
Mobile presence
Web presence
IM presence
Phone presence
etc, etc

The other features like desktop collaboration, conferencing, and video, seemed to be second to presence.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a huge value to using presence in a call center and enterprise, and any application you use in any of your business processes needs to have presence as a component, but our industry has a habit of over doing things sometimes. (In how many social networks are you currently a participant?)

There are apps for the iPhone like HeyWAY that allow me to see a satellite image and a blinking blue dot of exactly where my daughter is standing on the planet, regardless of where she tells me she is. That’s good. The same app will relay the identical presence information about me back to my wife. That’s bad.

Heck, there is even a patent for a ‘toilet seat occupancy monitoring apparatus’ (US Patent 5945914, go ahead Google it). While its original intent was to alert nursing stations to the presence of a patient, we all know some first year developer with basic knowledge of Web-services is going to code an app to have that information relayed to Twitter.

So while it may be an unusual request, I’m thinking I may want less presence this holiday season.

Best Wishes for 2010,

Brad Herrington

Brad Herrington

Brad Herrington

As a Manager in the Solutions Marketing Group, Brad is responsible for the product direction and marketing strategy of the suite of products offered by Interactive Intelligence. Solutions Marketing is also the outward facing delivery team for webinar, seminar, analyst and media presentations as well as prospect and end customer demonstrations. His experience includes more than 20 years in the contact center and telephony industry, including the past 16 years with Interactive Intelligence focused on both the traditional and IP telephony markets.