Is It Time To Ditch The Desktop Phone in Your UC Plan?

Brett Harney Unified Communications

No doubt you have questioned the sense in maintaining your desktop and/or landline phones in both your business and your home life. Perhaps you have already scrapped the home line in favor of your family all having cell phones. According to a study released in July of last year, over 41% of US households had scrapped their landlines. One year later, no doubt that number has risen. But what about businesses and desktop phones?    While it is common for certain types of employees to no longer have desktop phones (traveling sales people, on-site field techs, etc,), we have found a slower adoption of businesses willing to give up the desktop phone altogether. But with changes in technologies, features, and our reliance upon these new applications in today's business, maybe it is time to seriously consider ditching the desktop. According to the article Time to Throw Away Your Desk Phone, Bill Miller writes: With the rise of hosted VoIP and cloud VoIP, UC, and virtual phone systems, the hardware business model has changed, and desk phones are being designed into fewer applications. For virtual PBXs and phone systems, not designing in desk phones is typical: your business simply purchases a toll-free number, and a Web-based application allows configuration of your primary mobile number to ring when someone calls the number. You can be anywhere, anytime. No physical desk phone is ever needed or, by some people, even wanted.

Top Applications in Which Desk Phones Are Being Designed Out

Many enterprises are eliminating desk phones and moving to softphones. A friend who worked at a Fortune 50 company used a softphone exclusively: no mobile phone was even given to her. Most enterprises allow executives to include their mobile phone number in their online profile and on their business cards, but in general, they have moved to softphones with high-quality headsets. This practice will continue with the trend we see toward Skype for Business penetrating companies as a secure, mobile UC platform. Today, field sales, business development, sales engineering, and support personnel have pretty much eliminated desk phones. Remote employees of all types are eliminating desk phones and using mobile or softphones, again with high-quality headsets. The tight integration possible with customer relationship management and other applications makes staff more productive, with a fully integrated voice application. The company I work for now has a hosted VoIP system and more than 25 people, but the only desk phones are for the office manager, CEO, IT tech person, and the conference room. My main communication needs are accomplished via my mobile phone. When I attend a conference call, I use the conference room or CEO’s office, which have desk phones. I also use Cisco WebEx, Skype, and Viber for conferencing and international calls. No desk phone for me! The younger the executive team, the less desk phones are likely to exist. Millennials grew up on mobile phones and softphones such as Skype and feel that desk phones are clunky and unnecessary. In fact, more and more people are simply seeing voice as another application on their smartphone no different from e-mail, social media, or banking. Ditching your desk phones offers several benefits:
  • Improved functionality with applications on laptops, tablets, and mobile devices
  • Easy custom integrations with cloud-based applications for laptops, tablets, and mobile devices
  • Comprehensive UC integrations for video, presence, instant messaging, conferencing, and screen sharing with laptops, tablets, and mobile devices
  • Microsoft and Apple achieving tighter integrations with operating systems and environments

Summary: What's Your Unified Communications Plan?

Remember when desktop calculators were ubiquitous? Some people still use them, but most of us use spreadsheets on our laptops and sometimes a soft calculator app on our mobile devices. Desk phones are similar in nature. They will be around for a while, but over time, more applications and evolving integrations will move toward other, more efficient, higher-productivity, and cost-effective methods of implementation. Consider this when looking to develop your UC plan.