Phone or No Phone? The UC Debate.

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Alan Percy
| Observations by Alan D. Percy on VoIP enabling technology, industry and our personal reach for success.

Phone or No Phone? The UC Debate.

AudioCodes 420HD IP PhoneI participated in an interesting and animated discussion during the opening night of this most recent Lync Conference in Toronto Canada that started with “Is the desktop phone doomed?”  

First, let’s clarify that there are situations where phones are mandatory for public safety reasons – school class rooms, elevators, emergency call stations, hotel pools and other spaces that are required by either building or fire codes.  Phones are “expected” items in conference rooms, shared office space locations, un-staffed lobbies and similar locations. 

Given that, all those involved in the discussion agreed that for some business roles, it is clearly now possible to work in a Lync-client and headset-only mode, freeing up desk space that would otherwise be consumed by a desk phone.  However the conversation got interesting when the question of costs got engaged “Is it less expensive to eliminate the phone?”

So we did a set of back-of-the-cocktail-napkin computations for a desktop phone and wired headset, calculating both the CAPEX and the annual OPEX, assuming the phone would last 5 years and the wired headset would need to be replaced every six months (they do break and wear out):

 

CAPEX

OPEX

Typical desk phone with Power over Ethernet

$200

$40/year

Average to good-quality wired headset for an IP Phone

$50

$100/year

Totals

$250

$140/year

 

If instead, we buy every employee a Lync-compatible wired headset only (no IP Phone) and assume the headset would need to be replaced every six months:

 

CAPEX

OPEX

Average to good-quality wired Lync-compatible headset

$100

$200/year

 

Plantronics Voyager LegendThings get more interesting if you add a Bluetooth headset to the mix – as personal experience has taught me that they get lost, left at home, batteries die and accidentally get worn in the shower (don’t ask).  Expect two Bluetooth headsets/person/year.  Also, because of the life battery issue, a Bluetooth headset cannot be your only headset, so we assumed each user would also get one wired headset for the desk that would be replaced once a year.

 

CAPEX

OPEX

High quality Lync-compatible Bluetooth headset

$200

$400/year

Average to good-quality wired Lync-compatible headset

$100

$100/year

Totals

$300

$500/year

 

What does this tell us? 

Over the long-haul, an IP phone with a wired headset is the most cost effective due to lower OPEX costs.  It also says that today, the convenience of a hands-free Bluetooth office is expensive. Surely the costs for Lync-compatible headsets will come down over time, but for the near-term, Lync compatibility will make them more expensive than the more-popular RJ-11 run-of-the-mill phone-only headsets.

What’s a reasonable compromise that businesses can follow?

There is a reasonable expectation to provide employees with the most cost effective solution (an IP Phone and wired headset), but enables employees to BYOD for the Bluetooth headsets.  This ensures the employee has what is needed to do their work (a phone and headset), but puts the expensive part that gets lost/broken/left at home/worn in the shower (the Bluetooth headset) is on their dime – encouraging that they keep track of it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my Bluetooth headset(s), and worth every dime, but I need to get into the habit of checking my ear before jumping in the shower….

The “phone or no-phone” debate will go on for some time, until then, do share your thoughts and feedback.  

You can reach Alan at:  alan.percy@audiocodes.com



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