For our Partner Blog Series we like to highlight the relationships we have with our peers and business partners from across all areas of the telecommunications industry. We know that when it comes to relationships, the whole really is greater than the sum of the parts. That’s why we want to share with you the wisdom, experience, and perspective of the companies we work with.
For the inaugural edition of the Partner Blog Series, we’ve called on Hummingbird Networks, the expert providers of new and refurbished networking equipment. Today they examine some of the most often asked questions that revolve around the increase in hosted telecommunications’ popularity.
Do You Really Need a Desktop Phone Anymore?
It might seem to some like a ridiculous question to ask, but many businesses are starting to take a hard look at it anyway: Are wired desktop phones actually necessary anymore?
Of course, for many businesses, the answer is “yes” and will be for years to come. However, for others, it’s not so obvious. They may have a workforce that’s heavily invested in bringing/using their own devices. Perhaps their workforce largely telecommutes, and the office itself is minimal. Perhaps cloud solutions are taking the place of traditional phones.
So today, we wanted to take a look at some of the technologies that are disrupting traditional desk-based telecommunications. You might not be in a position of ditching your desk phones today, but by next year or beyond, it may not be too far out of the realm of possibilities.
6 Trends Quickly Rendering Traditional Desk Phones Irrelevant
1 – BYOD
Bring-Your-Own-Device is nothing new, but businesses are still discovering ways of taking advantage of it to cut their own costs. When 100% of your workforce already owns a smartphone, and probably prefers using it for communications, why force them to use desk phones? At the very least, it could end up making them duplicate efforts at maintaining contact lists and such.
After all, there are plenty of hosted communication systems that can take calls placed to a main office and intelligently re-route them to workers’ smartphones already. With the right VoIP provider partner, it’s not that hard for companies to set up their own ad-hoc Unified Communications network without a heavily investment in new hardware.
2 – Telecommuting
There are certainly pros and cons to having a workforce that’s mostly remote. Scheduling meetings is difficult, and there are still those who say remote conferences lack the immediacy of face-to-face meetings and simply aren’t as productive. Then again, there are also still those that say vinyl sounds better than digital.
Either way, having a largely remote workforce certainly does cut down on expenses because your workers will be mostly or entirely using their own home equipment. There’s no point maintaining office phones when no one is in the office to use them.
3 – On-The-Go VoIP and Softphones
So, all your employees use their own smartphones, but you’re concerned about security, centralization and call-tracking when they’re all on different phone models, operating systems, and service providers. That’s really not an issue either. There are plenty of softphone software VoIP solutions that create a unified data-based communications network which is largely or entirely hardware-agnostic.
The best solutions out there are easily integrated into existing Unified Communications (UC) setups as well, which, when implemented properly, create a best-of-both-worlds setup with all the benefits of UC but vastly less investment in infrastructure.
4 – Customers Preferring Non-Voice Communications
Here’s a little factoid about millennials a lot of people might not know about: On the whole, they prefer text-based communications to voice by a pretty large margin. A survey last year showed that:
- 76% describe text/email as “more convenient”
- 75% would rather lose voice communications than text
- 63% believe phone calls are more disruptive than text
One-fifth even said they never bother to check their voicemail!
So a company whose target market is largely those under 40 may find their telephone systems going unused, simply because their buyers don’t like making phone calls. And given that the influence of millennials on marketplaces is only going to grow for the next 20-30 years, this could signal a major change in how business/buyer communications happen in the decades to come.
Speaking of alternatives…
5 – Video Calls and Video Conferencing
Let’s not forget the other side of the “voice alternative” coin. Video-based communications are growing rapidly and are being driven by some of the largest players in technology. It’s now increasingly common for even everyday “phone calls” to be video calls instead, generally using VoIP-based platforms. The technology is right on the cusp of becoming truly mainstream, although it’s still being held back slightly by problems maintaining frame rates in lower-bandwidth environments. But because bandwidth is expanding consistently, this is an issue that will lessen greatly in years to come.
Given that desktop videophones are extremely expensive and fairly limited in their functionality, it seems fair to assume the move to video communications will largely happen on portable devices.
6 – Cisco Collaboration (and similar ventures)
The final factor to consider is that even the largest of communications companies are starting to push away from desk-bound solutions. Last year, Cisco turned a lot of heads by announcing a
major collaboration with Apple with direct integration of Cisco/Meraki systems into the iOS 10 operating system for iPhones and iPads.
Basically, a company with an existing Cisco or Meraki network and an install base of iPhones can already enjoy all the benefits of a fully on-the-go mobile UC system with virtually no additional expenditures or setup. That sort of plug-and-play functionality would be attractive to companies interested in the tech discussed in this article, but hesitant to embrace ad-hoc solutions.
Plus, if Cisco Collaboration gains popularity, it’s virtually inevitable that other similar deals will follow suit. This is more speculative, but it’s entirely possible that within a few years, all the major smartphone brands will carry software allowing them to directly integrate into cloud-based UC setups.
Towards A Phoneless Future…?
Overall, the trends point to communications simultaneously becoming more robust and more mobile, with less emphasis on voice-specific communications. The general millennial distaste for telephone calls will undoubtedly be a major driving factor here, particularly if they pass on that distaste to their own children.
What do you think? Are deskbound telephones officially in front of the technological firing squad, or is Hummingbird Networks jumping the gun? Let us know by joining the conversation on Twitter and Facebook, and make sure to stay tuned for more from the Partner Blog Series.