In my last blog, I talked about disconnecting my desktop phone. Here’s my 3 reasons why this is the exception rather than the rule in today’s world.
#1 Ease of use: familiar look and feel of a phone, including use of a handset, hands-free operation, and numeric key pad. IP phones with multi-line (and even color bit-mapped displays) and USB ports have taken this to new levels. IP phones can support corporate dashboards; corporate and departmental directories with click-to-call; conference managers that simplify chairman controls and enhance security; push-to-talk capabilities; zone paging that speed up communications; and visual voicemail that accelerates voicemail handling. They can support alerts, such as security alerts, weather alerts, IT alerts, travel advisories and company announcements. Finally, the phone, whether wired, cordless or wireless, can be converged with the PC to provide a unified experience in a unified communications context.
#2 Reliability/quality: voice quality impacts during PC background activities, booting in the morning, restarting during the day (e.g. due to security patches) and lack of operation during power failures, all contribute to the perception that ‘I want/need a phone to do my job”. While the PC platform is getting better every year, we’re not there for many environments! That said, the PC is a critical business tool- answering the phone while your PC is not available does not necessarily allow you to conduct business in any meaningful way. This is a reality of business in the 21st century!
#3 Cost: The TCO for a traditional phone is in the range of a few dollars/day, orders of magnitude less than a PC. Basic SIP phones have brought the cost points close to those of analog sets. In addition, MACs and wiring costs come down with IP telephony. If you have a PC, isn’t the incremental cost for IP telephony close to zero? Yes but what about the cost of headsets which have a relatively limited life expectancy- my experience is a couple of years max!
So the question is generally less about ‘should I invest in phones?’ and more about what’s the right functionality/price, given unified communications, PC functionality and most importantly job roles and the people that do these jobs.