How the desk phone is finding its place in a mobile world
The desk phone ain’t dead yet
Any enterprise reviewing their call logs may see desk phone usage results and wonder why they are still paying monthly maintenance for these idle devices. But is getting rid of landlines the answer? Or is it throwing away a valuable resource that just needs an update?
Experts have described the death of the desk phone as inevitable: “Why run to the desk to make calls when you have all the Unified Collaboration tools you need on the smartphone in your pocket?”
According to Pew Research, only 28% of U.S. landline telephone owners say their phone would be very hard to give up, a major drop from 2006 when 48% of landline owners said it would be very hard to give up their wired phones (The Web at 25 in the U.S., February 2014). Business is following suit because of mobile cost reduction, increased flexibility and enhanced functionality.
Some functions will always require the use of landlines. One example is an airport: while we are waiting at the gate to board a plane, the fixed phone is used by ground crew to call for support and information when needed. It is not tied to one person, it has a specific role and each gate will continue to have at least one for staff use. Emergency phones and customer phones aren’t going to disappear because of Unified Communications. Neither will the need for technical desk phones for receptions or switchboards that allow for holding and routing multiple calls at once.
But what about Mobile Unified Collaboration and Fixed Mobile Convergence? Many occupations, no longer require a constant desk phone. So why provide a landline where it may ring while employees are traveling or away from their desks?
People like to use a landline when they are expecting longer calls or need to set up meetings. A decent desk phone is more comfortable and effective than holding a mobile phone to your ear, but a smartphone is more beneficial for employees when they are on the road. So instead of seeing a smartphone and landline as independent of each other, we should imagine them as complementary.
There are solutions that allow users to switch between devices as they move to and from their desk. You can have the best of both worlds with one number for all contacts to reach you, one voicemail to leave messages at, and only one contract. Whatever telephony solution you use it has to work for you, you need the right tools for the job. If you work as part of a small team would it be beneficial to have a shared fixed line point of contact that can delegate the call to a mobile if it isn’t answered? It’s best for everyone to be able to call anywhere in the world but without the right contract the occasional call to Asia or the Americas on a mobile can become quite expensive and if it’s only an occasional call per person does it make financial sense to pay for everyone to have international calling plans. Wouldn’t it be better to have a fixed line with a really good overseas calling package that can be used by anyone when needed?M
The IT department can give a mobile phone to those that don’t require a landline and enable Unified Communications by linking the desk phone and mobile phones of those that do. This also adds an extra safety net and solves the problem of running out of battery or dropping your phone in a toilet, with unified communications the end of a mobile is not the end of the world.