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While business are entitled to ask where VoIP is going next and whether or when it will find its way into other applications, presence still has a lot left to offer, says Peter Cox - business development manager of Cisco's business and technology group.
"There are a few phases to presence and it has a long way to go - it's far more than just whether someone is on the phone," Cox says. "For a start it's going to move into physical presence. The use of wireless networks around in the enterprise, perhaps combined with RFID tag technology, gives you the ability to triangulate your exact physical location. So now people won't just be able you see if you're in a meeting, they'll be able to see that you're in the meeting room on the fourth floor."
"We can then take that to the next level, integrating it into areas such as supply chain management. For example, as that new iPod you ordered goes out the factory door, its RFID tag can trigger an automated voice call or text message to your mobile so you know it's on the way."
While adding a spatial component will enhance the usefulness of presence, the integration of VoIP and presence into business workflows will have a greater impact of the way organisations operate, Cox says.
"Imagine I ring into a call centre to query the status of a loan application. The call centre operator can look at their Customer Relationship Management software and see icon displaying the status of the loan approval - perhaps discovering the loan hasn't been approved.
Now what if we could use VoIP and presence to link the reason why it wasn't approved to the people who can solve that problem? If the loan hasn't been approved, imaging if the call centre operator could position their mouse over that icon and trigger a drop down menu displaying why it hadn't been approved, who is the organisation can deal with that problem and what the current presence status is for each of those people."
"Straight from the application they could launch a voice call, instant messaging session or email with the appropriate person in order to get the problem resolves as soon as possible. It's very easy to dynamically alter the contact list according the reason why the loan wasn't approved - perhaps it's a bad credit rating of perhaps it's just a problem with the paperwork. This means the person answering the call doesn't have to know the whole company intimately, because the workflow is actually recorded in the system."
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