Has unified communication killed the desktop phone?


As unified communication and collaboration solutions become far more popular and prevalent in the enterprise, companies are beginning to clamor for options that offer more flexibility and features than traditional desktop telephones. As a result of these trends, the traditional phone may soon disappear.

In a recent article for Unified Communications Strategies, independent industry analyst Dave Michels wrote that as devices such as smartphones and laptops become more crucial portals for daily communication and collaboration, his desktop phone becomes more of a hindrance than an asset.

“Until about a decade ago the office phone was the symbol of white-collar work,” Financial Times contributor Lucy Kellaway wrote. “It was the most important thing on any desk: every photograph of every man in power would invariably show him speaking urgently into one. But now these clumping phones sit largely silent, their huge receivers left slumbering in their cradles.”

Why desktop phones can’t compete with UC&C

A few decades ago, the landline telephone served as the primary hub for enterprise communications, allowing companies to speak with customers and clients while also facilitating internal collaboration. However, due in part to the rise of technologies such as IP telephony and video conferencing, plain old telephone service is no longer the go-to option for many firms. A May report from Infonetics Research found that spending on enterprise PBX dropped 9 percentfrom the first quarter of last year to Q1 2013. In comparison, the number of unified communication licenses sold during that same period rose 21 percent.

However, Michels noted that this shift away from traditional telephony does not preclude the use of desktop telephones, but a lack of change from telephone makers is exacerbating this trend. Manufacturers could make telephones that more effectively streamline video conferencing, SIP trunking and other communication technologies, but this shift has yet to occur en masse.

“The modern IP phone could be much more than it is, like a smartphone accessory,” Michels wrote. “It’s an always-on IP device with a large speaker. It needs to be adapted to the modern workplace and become cell friendly (including charging, Bluetooth, and more protection against interference). It also needs to become a desktop computer multimedia peripheral. We don’t need Bluetooth speakers on on our desks. I want my future IP phone to replace a lot of clutter and simplify my environment. I’m an advocate of the hard phone, but my patience is wearing.”

Partly as a result of these issues, the number of mobile devices found in the enterprise has expanded dramatically recently. Research firm Gartner predicted that the mobile devices shipped worldwide would rise from more than 2.2 million in 2012 to nearly 3 million by the end of 2017. After all, today’s businesses do not need to equip their employees with telephones if new technology like smartphones and laptops can provide them with the same communication and collaboration functionality.

To deal with such a transformative shift, enterprises should turn to the FlexTEL business solutions offered by FlexITy, one of Canada’s largest telecommunications and IT consulting services firms. Companies that implement a FlexTEL unified communication and collaboration as a service solution will have the best system for facilitating the type of interactivity needed to boost profit margins today and well into the future.