Will presence technology make virtual teams come alive

Copying biology's instant broadcasting systems

One of the things we learn when we study biological teams is that the communications used are designed to instantly reach the intended recipients wherever they are. For example, many forms of social insect communications are chemically based with the intensity and longevity of the scent (and the wind direction) determining who gets the message. In other words biological communications tend to be 'instant broadcasts'.

Challenges of instant communications in organisational teams

In previous posts I have described how today's organisations operate as "Virtually Networked Teams" and have suggested that these teams could reap major benefits by adopting the principles underpinning natures teams and becoming bioteams.

However it is not possible to emulate this biological style of instant ubiquitous communications in organisational teams just through email or asynchronous shared workspaces.

Communication is only instant if the recipient is sitting on-line with their email or workspace loaded and with a fast Internet connection.

Trying to achieve this raises lots of difficulties:

  • How do you know the recipient is present on-line?
  • If they are not on-line is there another (mobile) device they could be reached on?
  • If they could be reached on more than one device which would be best?
  • What types of message and communications are appropriate for each of these devices?
  • Will the recipient wish to take a call on another device?

Presence Technology

This area is known as Presence Technology.

It is a fast growing area with all the major technology players offering and promising products and services

Messaging Pipeline is an ezine dedicated to keeping up to speed with the fast moving world of presence.

MP defines Presence "as knowing that a person is online, and on a connected device with a certain device profile. Each part of that definition is critical to fully understanding presence and how it is changing, and will continue to change, the face of business communications"

Eye On Presence Technology

In an excellent short white paper the Presence area is introduced and illustrated with an update of what's currently happening:

  • What directions the major players are going in

  • Typical presence applications in areas such as healthcare

  • The "Presence across different networks" issue

  • The Privacy issue ("SPIM - Spam Instant Messaging")

  • Presence Technology standards such as XMPP (Entensible Messaging and Presence Protocol) and SIP (Session Initiation Protocol)


The growing Presence Technology field is a 'must track area' for all organisations and teams who need to constantly improve speed and responsiveness.

New working practices such as bioteaming can be enhanced with presence technologies to allow 'instant, ubiquitous, always on communications'.

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