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December 09, 2006

Ken's Magnificent Seven for 2006 - Unified Communications
An article well-worth reading from Ken Camp. I would definitely agree that Iotum is one of the more interesting innovators when it comes to influencing the way people think about presence. I would also agree that within the large enterprise space, Microsoft has not been all that innovative when it comes to presence and presence-enablement (yet it retains the most market influence - an ironic situation). Moving the conversation beyond SIP/SIMPLE would be a start (e.g., federate with XMPP-based systems, support a plug-in model where other types of activity watchers could signal presence-related data, etc.). IBM is a further along here and I believe the plug-in model in Sametime 7.5 will enable some interesting creative applications. Cisco is surprisingly missing in action when I talk to enterprise organizations focused on collaboration and presence/presence-enablement. Cisco clearly has the assets and is in a position to do some very innovative things (but, needs focus and execution). The intellect behind Jabber also is a force in getting people to think more deeply around presence. Antepo is a small firm but has also done some early wayfaring in the area of presence. The challenge is to not only be innovative but to trigger some type of cause-effect in the market that shifts the rather predictable course we seem to be on... 

Presence, Relevance and Context
Presence online started with the basics of IM and the buddy list. It has evolved to become so much more. Buddy lists are no long just binary online/offline indicators, yet they still have far to go. Presence management is an industry hot topic with many companies playing in to different pieces. Microsoft certainly wants to play (dominate) with the Live Communications Server, but the real innovation isn't taking place in Redmond.
Relevance is a word brought to our attention by iotum with their fabulous Relevance Engine. Relevance is all our status and availability. If I'm in a meeting, I can't take calls. If you're a telemarketer, you're spam and I don't want to talk to you. If you're family, I may want to be interrupted no matter what.
Context could be tied to relevance, but it's also something more. Twitter is the best example of the mashup relevance and context I can think of. It allows users to instantly update their status to friends, family and colleagues via SMS, the web, or chat clients. Instant social networking perhaps, but I've also explored using the Twitter concept for disaster recover and incident response teams.
The hot companies to watch? Today I'd say they're iotum, GrandCentral, Talkster and Twitter. Those are the ones I watch the closest. There are a lot of me-toos in the space, but these are the ones I see leading the way.
For the future, the big issue I see is how our personal information about presence, relevance and context must become part of our digital online identity. Identity management has been a very hot, and to me stalled and boring, topic for quite some time. The carriers, wireline and wireless alike, want to "own" our presence information. I think that's a problem. I own the information about me and I'll decide who can or cannot see it. I think in 2007 the industry will grapple with this. The key, as with digitial identity, lies in giving control to users, not to vendors and service providers.

Source: Ken's Magnificent Seven for 2006 - Unified Communications