Unified Communications Breaks Social Norms for Contact

Unified Communications (UC) promises good things, but there's a danger that it will actually make things worse.

Look at your business card. It probably has several phone numbers. One for your desk. One for your cell phone. One for your fax machine. Maybe one for your site. Possibly even one for your home.

There's a point of view that it's irritating and inefficient to have to juggle all these numbers. Wouldn't it be better to have the system just find me, using the number for the place I happen to be? Of course, this is a great idea.

But then again, no it isn't.

There's actually subtle contextual, social norms built up in the way we use different numbers today. There are times when I'm quite content to leave a voicemail if you're not at your desk. At other times, it may be urgent that I speak with you, and I'll try your cell phone. I might even call you at home, if I think it's appropriate. Without accurate presence information, how on earth can a UC automated attendant know what's best?

It can ask the caller, but that might prevent me from selectively giving out my home phone number. It can also ask the subscribers what their rules are about when they can be disturbed on which device, and who's allowed to disturb them. That's complicated though, and it seems unlikely that most users will choose to set this up right and keep the rules up-to-date. That would make a UC world actually more irritating and inefficient.

... Richi Jennings, with thanks to Martin Geddes

One Comment

  1. Arshad Merali
    Posted July 7, 2006 at 8:57 AM | Permalink

    The problem has been addressed by our friends at Iotum (www.iotum.com) with their relevance engine.

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