reduce the volume of unnecessary email, a scourge in today's data-deluged workplaces. In addition, information from external social networks and organizational charts can now be easily discovered from within Office 2010 applications, enriching what you know about the people with whom you work without forcing you to open a new browser window and conduct a search.
Here are some of the ways in which virtual presence can have a real impact on your business:
-- Presence during co-authoring. When someone's co-authoring a document with you in Word 2010, PowerPoint 2010, or OneNote 2010, that person's name and status indicator appears in the margins. By clicking on their status indicator you can send an instant message, create a new email or even initiate a VoIP call. Similarly, when you receive an email in Outlook 2010, you can instantly see the sender's presence status indicator if available. This is invaluable for bringing together office workers with remote workers, people in different time zones and traveling employees.
-- Internal knowledge through contact cards. If your business uses Microsoft Exchange and Active Directory, a "contact card" can display where your internal correspondents fit on the org chart. Although this would be most useful feature at larger organizations, even smaller companies have new hires and people located at other offices who may not be familiar with exactly how people fit into the company.
-- External knowledge from social networks. More applicable to small and midsize companies is the Outlook Social Connector, an add-in for Outlook that brings your correspondents' social network feeds and profile information directly to your inbox. The installation process involves downloading separate components for accessing LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace and Windows Live Messenger, which helps your IT staff to set appropriate usage policies for which social networks are to be integrated into the everyday email client, and which would be better left for off-hours perusal. On the surface, adding LinkedIn would be the obvious choice, providing quick details about the company, title, and current job responsibilities of your email correspondents, as knowing someone's professional history can be a great help in composing appropriate emails. However, that same logic might apply to Facebook status feeds, especially if you have a prior relationship with a customer or business partner that would warrant adding a personal note to the start of an email prior to getting down to business. (e.g. "Loved your vacation photos! You'll have to tell me more about it when we meet on Wednesday.")