does dawn of the tablet = death of the desk-phone?

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man on phone.jpgI've seen a lot of comments on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc; that speculate on the death of the desk-phone with the dawn of the tablet.

My thoughts, at this time … please stop watching Star Trek or Blade Runner and come back to the world of today!

Look around at the office environments we have today, look at your own companies and even more so, look at the companies who are sending out RFP's for their voice strategies over the next 3 to 5 years. Now using your fingers, count how many of them do NOT have a requirement for desk-phones now, or in their RFP's … according to my reckoning, that'll be none !!

There is a very simple reason for this -  not all staff are nomadic warriors with tablets, smart-phones, phasers and tricorders in their utility belt. A huge proportion of staff today and for the foreseeable future, will utilise dial-tone provided by a desk-phone, next to their PC, on the desk that they always work from, whether its in Accounts, Admin, Sales or an Agent in a Contact Centre. To most of these users, the ability to click a contact, or icon, on their PC and then the phone mysteriously dials the number for them, is a leap forward in technology.

Please don't get me wrong, I love the new technology and the fact that I've got Avaya, Cisco and Microsoft kit all over my office at home points to that fact (much to my wife's disgust). However, I spend a large portion of my time responding to RFP's and talking to customers about their voice or UC roadmap and although they want all the whistles and bells, they also have to look at the bottom line and their ROI.

I agree that tablets are here to stay and, providing all the major players make their UC applications truly platform agnostic, we will see a surge in tablet usage in the UC arena, but until that day, we will still have both enterprise and consumer products fighting for survival with the old desk-phone clinging on for dear life.

Look at it this way, if you have your Avaya, Cisco or Microsoft voice platform, a phone is fairly easy to install. If you want a tablet, do you go Avaya DVD with Flare, a Cisco Cius with Communicator, a Windows7 tablet with Lync – or an iPad that everyone seems to have but that doesn't yet have an enterprise UC app. Then you have to factor in the back-end stuff, the training, the licensing for the app, the headset and the cost of maintenance and support.

Tablet or desk-phone – the two are most definitely not the same !

Now stand up, look around the office and ask yourself, “there's a time, a place, a need – do they need it?”

Oh Yes... throw your ROI out the window !

Nicolas Jacquey
chris habberjam

Chris is an experienced IT professional, specializing in voice communications. His favourite areas are around IPT and Unified Communications.