Mobile Presence: A Communications Tidal
Wave Heading Your Way!
BY ERAN YANIV
I saw my business colleague was
on an important call. I knew better than to bother him because he wasnï¿½t
able to talk. The visual cues told me I should leave him a message. I knew
where he was, how he felt, and that he wasnï¿½t available. Did I mention that
he was at the airport in Boston and I was sipping my morning coffee in Los
Mobile presence technology
promises to forever change the way the walking world communicates. Mobile
users will know who is available and how to communicate with them before
calls are ever placed. Friends, coworkers, and family will instantly reveal
their ever-changing communication inclinations and moods. Preferences such
as ï¿½send me an instant message,ï¿½ ï¿½call me,ï¿½ or ï¿½leave me a voice mailï¿½ will
be known before a number is dialed. The upside to such technology is
monumental. According to Forrester Research, the effect of presence first
will be to harmonize communications, then boost productivity, and finally
In its simplest form, presence is knowledge about a mobile userï¿½s
availability, capability, and desire to communicate. For example: Is your
friend in a service zone? Is her phone on? Is she on a call? Would she
prefer a text message? Does she have push-to-talk capabilities? Is she
logged on to her instant messaging application?
This combination of
server-detected and user-projected information is aggregated by a
centralized presence server and provided to select groups of people in a
userï¿½s address book or in other presence-enabled applications such as mobile
instant messaging and wireless portals. Presence information is collected
from users, applications running on the mobile device, the handset hardware
and queries to the core network. The network provides automatic insight
regarding whether a user is in a data session, if the phone is in a coverage
zone, if the device is turned on, if the user is on a call, and in some
cases, the location of the mobile user.
As presence information becomes comprehensive and personalized, users should
be able to maintain full control over which presence attributes they are
willing to expose and to whom. Users should also have the ability to set
rules that determine when to present a certain presence status as opposed to
another. Privacy and flexible user provisioning tools are crucial elements
for assuring full presence success.
Presence-based solutions enable the following communication scenarios:
ï¿½ Itï¿½s seven in the morning and you need to talk with a business partner.
You see he is able to talk and call him when you otherwise might not have.
ï¿½ You need to speak with your spouse but you see that sheï¿½s outside a
coverage zone. You tell your phone to call her when she regains access if
you are available to make the call.
ï¿½ You are on a remote job site and need to troubleshoot a problem. Presence
shows that the key support personnel are available. You conference everyone
together and quickly come up with a solution.
ï¿½ You are spending an evening alone and decide you want to play a game. You
broadcast your availability, inviting people to play online with you.
ï¿½ You are working on a project and do not want to be disturbed. You tell
your phone to send all callers to voice mail except if your key client is
trying to reach you.
ï¿½ You have some hot news you want to share with your friends. You announce
ï¿½I have news!ï¿½ and invite your friends to call when they can.
Presence evolved from the world of instant messaging. Just as IM buddies can
see who is available to chat and whether they are ï¿½out to lunch,ï¿½ presence
extends and expands these concepts to the mobile market. Presence enables or
enhances value-added services such as mobile instant messaging, voice
conferencing, push to talk, smart address books, park-on services,
interactive games, dating services, and more.
WHY PRESENCE BRINGS USERS TOGETHER
Presence breaks down communication barriers and encourages instant
communication by dynamically revealing the status of mobile users. For
example, by simply scrolling through an address book list, a user can
immediately see if a person is available and willing to take a call. This
type of communication has a tremendous effect on the way mobile users
Presence assures fluid communication and better prepares a caller for the
state of the person being called. Just as caller ID enables someone to
answer the phone ï¿½Hi Mike,ï¿½ presence enables the calling party to say ï¿½I saw
you were available and thought Iï¿½d see how you are doing.ï¿½ Presence
encourages this type of communication by confirming another partyï¿½s
Presence-enabled solutions allow mobile users to:
ï¿½ Increase the certainty of a completed call;
ï¿½ Efficiently communicate with friends, colleagues and family;
ï¿½ Let others know the best way to contact them;
ï¿½ Prioritize communication based on circumstances;
ï¿½ Selectively express availability to different groups of people;
ï¿½ Communicate unique circumstances; and
ï¿½ Utilize new communication alternatives.
ENORMOUS POTENTIAL FOR
At its core, presence triggers new communication. New communication
generates more calls and more messages, which increases revenue. Whether you
bill extra for value-added services or need to increase minute consumption,
presence-enabled services are the key to greater profits.
At first glance, it might appear that presence will diminish carrier
revenue, however just the opposite occurs. When a caller knows in advance
that someone is available to take his or her call, the likelihood of a
conversation occurring greatly increases. Additionally, knowing up front
that a caller will reach voice mail reduces slam-downs, encourages him or
her to leave a message and generates a return call. Traffic will also
increase during off-hours as callers see a friend, colleague or family
member is available. These new communication opportunities will
significantly impact ARPU and reduce churn.
Presence promotes usage of
enhanced services by making communication more fun and intuitive. For
example, callers will know if the person they are trying to reach has a
multimedia-capable device, encouraging them to send multimedia messages that
stimulate increased use of such services. Presence also enables a carrier to
sell new or enhanced services such as a presence-enabled address book,
mobile instant messaging, presence-based call return, spontaneous
conferencing and much more.
Presence can be used to cross the
mobile world to other carrier-based services including Internet
connectivity, wireline, and international calls, enabling enhanced
communications such as mobile to PC interaction.
Other presence business advantages:
ï¿½ Increases impulsive instant communication;
ï¿½ Enhances existing services;
ï¿½ Attracts new users;
ï¿½ Promotes new, advanced handsets;
ï¿½ Makes communication feasible when a voice call cannot be completed;
ï¿½ Integrates multiple applications and services;
ï¿½ Enables users to complete communication attempts; and
ï¿½ Increases traffic, user data transfer, airtime, and use of premium
THE PRESENCE SERVER
The critical enabler of presence services is a centralized presence server.
The presence server acts as a gateway between presence-enabled applications
residing on a handset and key systems within the carrier network. The
presence server detects, collects, and aggregates dynamic presence
information and distributes it to authorized users or services. When the
presence server is either queried for information or generates a
notification, presence information is only presented to authorized parties
as indicated via user preferences.
A centralized presence server
must be able to detect and interrogate operator network components including
AAA, GMLC, HLR, MSC, GGSN, SGSN and CSCF. It also must comply with
next-generation architecture such as IMS over the SIP/SIMPLE protocol and be
interoperable with other presence servers, whether over SIP/SIMPLE or
Wireless Village, standard protocols in the industry. Seek a solution that
is vendor agnostic to both infrastructure and handsets to assure full
compatibility with future investments. A presence server should not create
network bottlenecks and must be a certified Telco-grade solution.
Additionally, the solution should integrate automatic presence detection,
advanced manual user settings, and provisioning.
Seek a vendor that has mastered the total communications potential of
presence from the server-side requirements to the presence-enabled
applications that reside on a handset. Intelligent and intuitive handset
applications and user interfaces are the glue that will help users stick
with presence. The promise of presence is much more than hype. Presence
solutions are available today, represent a radical new way to communicate
and will prove to be a major profit center for carriers.
Eran Yaniv is associate vice
president, Americas, at Comverse, Inc. Comverse envisions a world of Total
Communication where people are free to communicate in the way that is most
convenient and appropriate, allowing them to move between different modes of
interaction ï¿½ from visual to voice to touch ï¿½ according to changes in
context or preference. For more information please visit
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