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What is the real impact of New Presence?

A week last Friday, Jim Courtney stopped by the iotum offices to chat about Talk-Now, our New Presence application for BlackBerry.  He's written a fabulous piece for SkypeJournal on New Presence, Talk-Now, and what it means for individual users.  Here's a few thoughts that build on what Jim has written.

We can all relate to the problem Talk-Now solves on an emotional level — it lets us know when the people we need to speak with are available, so we don't have to play telephone tag.  But what does that mean more concretely?  What would you tell the CFO of your company if you were asked to justify the value of presence?

Jim references a recent Cap Gemini study, which points out that 82% of all calls end in voicemail.  In that study, the probability of connecting with a human being when making a call was just 18%, and it took 3.15 call attempts prior to each successful contact. 

There's enough data in that Cap Gemini study to build a mathematical model which you can use to answer the question: "What would it mean if you could increase the probability of connection?".  It yields some suprising results.

The Cap Gemini study says that it takes 3.15 failed call attempts on average before a successful connection is made, which implies that sometimes the caller simply abandons future attempts.  That is to say, if I am trying to reach you, I may just give up, or complete the conversation by email, or in a hallway.  In the Cap Gemini study, you can compute a 9.79% probability that after each attempt no further attempts will be made.  With that piece of information, we can now model what happens in repeated attempt scenarios.  

It turns out that if the probability of connecting is just 18% on each attempt, then for every 100 people you wish to talk with, you will reach just 69 of them.  Wow!  The other 31 are people you're never going to talk with by telephone.  And in order to talk with those 69 people you will likely make 384 separate call attempts. 

That is the productivity cost of telephone tag. 384 calls to reach 69 people;  31 people missed all together. 

So, what would the world look like if you could increase the probability of making a connection, perhaps by employing a presence application.  The chart below shows that an increase of as little as 7% in connection probability results in a 28% reduction in the number of calls you need to make. Moreover, you're talking to more of the people you need to reach as well. To your CFO, that's money in the bank.

Moreover, although it seems a little counter-intuitive, when you leave fewer voice mails, your carrier earns more money.  Presence actually drives more communications network minutes, because successful person to person calls are much longer than voicemail calls.  An increase of 7% in connection probability drives a nearly 10% increase in network minutes used. 

There you have it.  Presence increases customer satisfaction, reduces telephone tag, and drives higher revenues for carriers.

Everybody wins.

That's also the reason that the New Presence model is so important.  Our society isn't going to become a society of people setting their away/busy status every step of the day.  Presence will never succeed if that remains the model.   Until presence become New Presence — completely transparent, intuitive, and natural — we'll never see these benefits.

A couple of footnotes:

  1. The Cap Gemini study is probably applicable to business calling in general.  For the study, 9,000 workers call detail records were tracked and analyzed for a whole year.  That's an awful lot of calling records.
  2. For the math geeks out there, attached is an explanation of how the model works. Enjoy.


{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Corporaterat February 24, 2007, 4:28 pm

    I really think presence needs to be put into perspective. Too many people only seem to talk only about statistics and figures on failed vs. successful calls and the fact that you will avoid VM tags with presence. What they don't talk about is that how many people will actually keep this application active to show his/her own presence. Presence is directly linked to privacy, and people just don't seem to get that. I think presence will be a success in enterprise and work scenarios, but as laid out right now – i.e. will show others when they are free are not, it will simply not work in consumer space. I was talking to a good friend of mine the other day who was telling me about his experience with deploying a similar presence application in the korean market – but for mass residential consumers – according to him more than 80% of the subscribers switched it off. Again, people who compare it to 'people using IM's with presence' are comparing apples to oranges. An IM or email is non-disruptive and non-interruptive. A voice call is not.

  • Alec February 24, 2007, 6:15 pm

    I agree, Rat. It's not clear to me that presence is really a consumer application in the same that it makes sense in the corporate space. That's one of the reasons we focused our efforts on the BlackBerry. One of the keys to making presence successful, in my opinion, is the ability to selectively present the information to different people based on your relationship. That's one of the things which Talk-Now does very well, too.

  • Pat Phelan February 25, 2007, 2:06 am

    Imagine if you could integrate talk-now with a calling card platform.
    My European A-legs charges for non completed calls are almost €5000 per month
    Any way of reducing these would be a godsend.

  • Alec February 25, 2007, 11:51 am

    Yeah! That would be great.

  • Paul Jardine February 27, 2007, 6:54 pm

    Most operators don't charge for call attempts, even at interconnect (intercarrier) level, but it is definitely a network cost. Look what happens when you have a network problem and call connections fail. The volume of call attempts rises to the point where it has a knock on effect, even to other networks.
    In Thailand, it often takes 3-4 attempts just to get the mobile phone to ring, and probably several more before anyone picks up!

    Also, I think you're right Alec, the key to new presence is the ability to selectively present your information based on the relationship. So, what someone sees when they enquire about you is a dynamically generated set of content based on who the enquirer is, your relationship with them, and your situation at the time of the request.

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