Beamish, who discussed the concept of presence awareness (please see Executive Spotlight, page 23), was ten minutes late for the interview. Rather than having Beamish call me at the agreed-upon-time, Mitel’s public relations staff wanted to set up a conference call, where Beamish, the PR guy and I would call in – typical in an industry where PR reps usually like to listen in on interviews. So when he wasn’t available to call in, I was put on hold, which didn’t bother me, as I could get some work done while waiting. As soon as I was put on hold, I couldn’t hear anything – not even Musak – and thought, “What a concept. Mitel has a telecom system that doesn’t force callers to listen to annoying elevator music or radio talk shows while they’re waiting on hold.”
What I didn’t realize was I wasn’t on hold at all. The reason for the golden silence was not any consideration on the part of Mitel’s telecom department but rather the fact that the PR rep accidentally hung up on me. Thinking I was still on hold, I didn’t answer any of the five calls that came in while I was on hold — not realizing that at least one of these was from the Mitel PR rep attempting to contact me because Beamish had arrived for the interview. I only realized I had been disconnected when a colleague rushed into my office, after having been notified by the receptionist that someone was trying to reach me and hit 0 to get the operator.
If I had the type of presence awareness technology Beamish was talking about, I could have notified the PR guy but no one else that I was available by phone. The PR person would not have had to bother the receptionist, who would not in turn have had to bother my colleague, who would not in turn have had to walk all the way across the office looking for me. There’s no doubt incidents like this happen every day at companies across Canada, and this will drive demand for both presence and instant messaging services.