Unified Communications: Click to talk

Aug 31 2009   2:29AM GMT

End of the Desk Phone Era

Tony Bradley Tony Bradley Profile: Tony Bradley

One of the ubiquitous elements of a corporate desk in virtually any cubicle or office is the desk phone. When new employees join the team, assigning a phone number and supplying them with a phone are typically some of the first steps for getting them set up and ready to work.

A recent article on SearchUnifiedCommunications examines whether or not the desk phone is a dying breed. In an age of unified communications where users can make and receive calls from their computer using softphones and where much greater integration with and reliance on mobile phones is a key component, it seems that the desk phone is no longer necessary- like the appendix is no longer necessary in the human body.

Well, perhaps its premature to declare it unnecessary? Recent medical studies have suddenly discovered that the body makes valuable use of the appendix- an organ that has been dubbed useless for over a century. Like the appendix- news of the death of the desk phone may be exaggerated.

For one thing- companies already have them. So, sales of new desk phones may slow dramatically, but that doesn’t mean that companies won’t continue using the desk phones they’ve got until they’ve squeezed out every last drop of possible productivity from them.

Another issue is the performance of the computer itself. Desk phones are not cheap – corporate desk phones cost a few hundred dollars each. It may seem logical to suggest that users just leverage softphones and unified communications on the computer they already have rather than investing in the desk phone. That assumes that the computer has the horsepower to multitask and still manage to make and receive phone calls without impacting voice quality.

Many companies may find that they need to invest in upgrading the computer hardware to make the move to pure softphones feasible. As a long-term strategy, it may make sense to invest in the robust computer hardware. If you’re going to spend money either way, better to invest it in advancing technology and adapting to evolving communications methods instead of legacy equipment.

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