Here is an e-mail I received in response to my Just In Time Communications editorial. Art
I’m glad to see you taking up the battle to change our woefully inadequate terminology to describe how people should communicate with others or be contacted by automated application services in a converging multi-modal communications environment.
You are on the right track by starting to focus on the relative priorities of the contact initiator vs. those of the recipient. These priorities will realistically start to come into alignment with the power of SIP which can enable end-to-end presence, availability, and last, but not least, modality management. It is the convergence of IP telephony and multi-modal messaging that will enable person -to-person communications to be both flexible and manageable. The "buddy list" for controlling contact relationships, as well as access "rules," are a starting point for dynamically controlling personal accessibility, but the dynamics of the real world will need more than such manual "programming" strategies.
Look at the complete failure of the voice mail "greeting" to satisfy the informational needs of a caller who wants to know how they can make immediate contact with recipient or at least know when they can expect a response if they leave a message. Most users record a standard, non-specific greeting. Whenever I ask an audience how many of them change their voice mail greeting at least once a day, I only see a handful of hands raised. Even then, the information is not accurate or adequate enough to be useful for a caller’s immediate contact needs.
I discussed the importance of the needs of contact initiators in an article in Business Communications Review, pointing out that without the initiator’s actions recipients would get nothing. With new multi-modal contact alternatives, however, the confusion that you complained about in your editorial is still a problem that I see being resolved through the still evolving facilities of SIP standards and what I have called "transmodal communication." That term describes the ability to quickly and easily shift from one modality of communication to another, as circumstances require.
Transmodal communications capability is not only useful when trying to establish contact with a person, but is also important even after one form of contact has already been made. Now that all forms of person-to-person communications are converging at both the IP network transport levels, as well as the communication devices level, people can initiate a contact at a message exchange level and escalate to a voice conversation (and vice versa) as the their needs and circumstances dictate. I proposed this perspective in a recent column that was published on your web site late last year.
The benefit of this kind of communications flexibility will be seen at the end user level (where it really counts), by enabling users to communicate more easily in whatever way works best for all parties, rather than guessing about what devices others have, what contact method to try first, and then being stuck with an initial communications modality that isn’t effective. If the communication exchange suddenly requires a more efficient mode of communication, including conferencing in other people, that should be a seamless and simple switch. The bottom line will be more successful contacts, as well as more "productive" use of time.
I don’t know if my term, "transmodal communications" (it is kind of a mouthful!) will help fix the terminology problem you describe in your editorial, but the general reaction from experienced industry leaders has been favorable. Perhaps with a little more branding, it could catch up with the success of "VoIP!"
I welcome your comments and may publish the exchange in my column.
Here is what I sent back:
I agree a new term is needed perhaps even a new dictionary of terms.
Transmodal works and someone else proposed prioritized communications.
They both work. I thought JITC was good because it conveys wringing efficiency out of communications.