Q3 2010 Issue, Volume 1, Part 2
Presence In The Enterprise: Using your Asterisk switch for Instant Messaging and telling who is in the office
Within the enterprise, the concept of presence is currently getting a great deal of buzz. The important questions that executives need to have answered are what is presence, and why is important?
Presence is simply knowing the status of what your employees are doing, no matter what media they are doing it with. With instant messaging, e-mail and phone systems now all sharing the same level of importance in our customer communications, is no longer possible to presume that just because someone is off the phone that they are "free" or "available".
For example, you may be attending a webinar. You may set your phone do not disturb, but this is not reflected in your IM status. Likewise, you may be on an important call, however, people continue to IM you, not realising that you are occupied. Would not it be more simple if as you pick up the phone or started a webinar or even started chatting on an IM, that your other media reflected your new status?
Another place for the concept of presence is becoming more important is within call centres and contact centres. One of the most important targets that many call centres try to achieve his so-called first call resolution. First call resolution is achieved. When both passing the call from an initial agent to more qualified agents, all within one phone call. The customer is able to have his or her issue resolved with no requirement for a callback or are required to callback themselves. Unfortunately often escalation involves blindly for doing a call into another queue. As anyone who has ever been on hold before can attest to, being put back on hold is the least satisfying solution for a customer.
What if, instead, it was possible to see all of the agents in the next teir of support, who was available and what their available skill was. The escalating agent could then IM. The next agent could then quickly explain the issue and do a hot pass-over without forcing a customer to listen more hold music. This is one way that presence is being used in call centres and contact centres.
Asterisk IP PBXs come with the ability to integrate them with a free open source instant messaging system known as jabber. Jabber is the technology behind popular messaging systems such as Google talk. It scales well across the enterprise, can be deployed on multiple servers and is easy to manage. When integrated with Asterisk, it can be used to reflect changes of availability at all the phone and the IM client. It can also be used to display caller ID, show missed calls and notify of waiting voice mails. Best of all, for most companies jabber does not require any additional hardware. It can be run on the same server that your asterisk PBX is currently running on.
In small offices, one of the happiest people to see presence being deployed is often the secretary. The combination of non-e-mail text messages and at-a-glance availability makes the job of the front desk person much, much easier.
If you have ever wondered if a co-worker was on the phone, then your enterprise could probably benefit from presence. JKL5 would be happy to work with you to deploy and test within your company.