A few days ago, my boss told me some of our prospective clients were confused about Presence.
She said the last few people with whom we discussed Lync didn’t get Presence. “How does that work? Is it useful?”
If someone’s never seen it before, I can see why Presence is a little hard to grasp. So let’s go through it, and work out a good clear way to explain Presence to someone new.
First, let me draw a parallel to a longer-used system: Instant Messaging. In IM clients like AIM or Yahoo Messenger, you get an indicator of when a person is online, offline, busy, away, etc.
Lync’s Presence system accomplishes something similar, but farther-reaching. Here are the basic codes for Lync 2013 Presence status:
|Away / Off Work|
|Busy / In a Call / In a Meeting|
|Do Not Disturb / Presenting|
The same color shows up along the left side of your avatar image.
So we could start by defining Presence as: Lync Presence is a system where you can see the status of another user.
But why would we want to know a person’s status?
To determine if it’s okay to contact them. If they’re set to Away or Busy, chances are they won’t respond to your message/phone call.
The same also applies to your own Presence. If you’re in a meeting, set to Do Not Disturb!
Does Presence convey any other information?
Yes. It also conveys (upon mouse hover) your current location and any note you’ve entered as you what you’re doing.
For instance, here’s a screenshot of my Lync 2013 client. I’ve set my status to Busy, written a note saying what I’m busy on, and set my location as the office. Took about 3 seconds.
Custom Presence is even possible, as we’ve discussed here in the past.
Let’s revise our definition: Lync Presence is an indicator of a user’s status, given to help advertise when it’s okay to contact them.
What if we’re not looking at Lync? Can we still see someone’s status?
Yep! Presence expands past the Lync client. (Big part of Presence’s value, right there.) You’ll also find the Presence icon in Outlook, SharePoint, Exchange, federated networks, Lync 365 on Office 365, Lync Mobile, Microsoft Dynamics software (like CRM), and related apps.
Here’s a partial screenshot of my Outlook window. You’ll see that one person is Unknown (external contact), one is Away, and two are Available. You can determine these users’ status at-a-glance by the Presence icon color.
What if I don’t want everyone to know what I’m doing – I just don’t want them to bug me?
The final value of Lync Presence is that Presence visibility is determined by privacy relationships. The relationships you set between yourself and your Lync contacts governs how much of your Presence status they can see (and vice versa).
There are four such privacy relationships in Lync by default (ordered from most open to least): Friends & Family, Workgroup, Colleagues, and External Contacts.
So for example, if you and I had a Workgroup-level privacy relationship, I could see your job title, work phone number and your SharePoint Site. But if we had a Colleague-level privacy relationship, I couldn’t see the work number or SharePoint Site. If we were External Contacts, I couldn’t see those either.
Here’s a full run-down of who can see what, by privacy level:
Control Access to Your Presence Information in Lync – Microsoft Office Website
A final definition of Lync Presence
With all of this, we can revise our definition of Presence again.
Lync Presence makes communication much more efficient, by showing who’s willing & available to communicate, where they are, and how you can contact one another.
Hope all this information makes it much easier for you (and us!) to explain Presence to others.