All the presence under the tree Featured

7:02am EDT November 29, 2005
Getting presents is fun, but having presence is essential in today’s business climate. But what does having presence mean in business today?

Your presence is much more than having your customer, or potential customer, recognize your name and remember your catchy 800-number. It means that the most important people to your business know how to reach you, know when you are available and know when you will be free if you’re not available, in real time.

You can have presence in the office, at home, away on a business trip or sitting under a tree (with wireless connectivity). And with that presence, you will be first to respond to the customer, save money with timely execution or manage a project that can’t get along without you.

If presence only meant telephone presence, a thorough and timely outgoing voice message would suffice. But a powerful IP telephone system can give you presence before a call is even placed. In the office, your status — available, on the phone, away from the desk, gone for the day — can be displayed to other phone users.

Your status is displayed on a computer screen or IP telephone screen, so they know before they dial, before they listen to your voicemail message, before they leave you yet another message. This saves you, and them, time. It also gives them an opportunity to signal you via screen prompt — computer or phone screen.

Or schedule automatically with your online schedule if your presence information tells them you are unavailable. And all that can happen in less time than it took to read this paragraph.

It doesn’t end there. An online document, part of your Web site or a simple e-mail message may contain a link that connects your client, prospect, supplier or contractor to you immediately via instant messenger.

Don’t type very fast? Make the link launch an IP phone application on the user’s computer that calls you (wherever you are). How much money can you save by resolving an issue your subcontractor has run into on site while you are in an airplane with your laptop?

Have you ever wished that you could personalize your outgoing voicemail message for a particular caller? If your phone system is smart enough, you can make it give the caller the information you want them to hear, either by recognizing the caller’s number or using a PIN number.

Certainly, mobility is of the essence in today’s business world. But if where we are is the only place we have presence, we are not working smarter, just harder. A follow-me function from your IP telephone system can help resolve issues or deliver orders. Some follow-me functions will leave you spread out, in essence giving you presence where you were, not where you are.

This happens when the caller misses you but the message goes to your cell phone voicemail, not your office and/or e-mail. Your phone system has to be smarter than that. For example, you may ring all lines (office, cell, home office) at once. Which ever answers gets the call.

A missed call goes one predictable place for convenient retrieval. Notification of missed calls go where you want them to go, and all of this can be routed based on who is calling.

What if you have to transfer a call that you received on your cell phone? You can do that, too, if you have an extension to cellular feature.

Cell phones have a simple key sequence just like a desk phone that transfers or conferences your caller. Some systems require a string of 16 or more digits long, just to transfer a call. This will try your patience and diminish your effective presence with your caller.

Don’t pay a penalty in limited usefulness just because you are mobile — use technology that delivers full functionality to your mobile phone.

Consider your presence and how it can be enhanced with IP telephony. Now consider how much that is worth to your business. Timing is everything. Get there first with your presence and own the business that is waiting to be captured.

William Beldham, solutions consultant for TriLogic Corp., focuses on IP telephony for customers in PA, OH and WV. Reach him at