Eric Krapf
Eric Krapf is General Manager and Program Co-Chair for Enterprise Connect, the leading conference/exhibition and online events brand in the...
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Eric Krapf | June 27, 2014 |


What Does A Guy Have to Do to Get a Desk Phone Around Here?

What Does A Guy Have to Do to Get a Desk Phone Around Here? In some enterprises, if you really want a desk phone, you've got to prove you need one.

In some enterprises, if you really want a desk phone, you've got to prove you need one.

When your IT department is determined to eliminate all desk phones, what does it take an employee to get an exception made? How about a note from your doctor?

That was what one enterprise IT organization decided to require, according to Quentin Kramer of systems integrator SPS; Quentin experienced this particular "solution" at a company where he was engaged in a Microsoft Lync deployment. The upshot: No notes came in, and nobody got a desk phone.

Quentin told that story at our last Enterprise Connect Tour stop in New York this week. Our panel was discussing the various approaches that different enterprises are taking toward the whole issue of what to do about the desk phone in a Lync world that clearly de-emphasizes hard phones.

Alan Shen of Unify Square had his own fun anecdote, starring former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. When it came time to put a Lync-compliant phone on Ballmer's desk, the never-shy Ballmer rebelled against the wire coming out of the phone. It had to be wireless and powered by two AA batteries. Ballmer didn't want to see any wires.

The solution: The tech team drilled a hole in Ballmer's desk below where the phone would sit, and ran the wire through that, making sure its inevitable course to the wall jack was hidden from view throughout. Ballmer didn't see any wires.

Somewhere in between requiring a doctor's note to deter end user demands, and defacing the CEO's desk to satisfy his demands, there has to be a happy medium when it comes to accommodating end users' conflicting emotions about their desk phones.

In a No Jitter post on a phone-free Lync deployment she'd worked on, consultant Barb Grothe described a pretty constructive approach. Her consulting client told users they were going to get only headsets at the initial deployment. After a week, anyone who really wanted a phone could have one.

"Surprisingly, only two employees out of 750 stated that they wanted a deskphone," Barb writes. "One was for a hearing issue, so they wanted the phone handset with an amplified hearing adjustment, and the other employee could not handle the headset because of "radio frequency issues."

It's anyone's guess what those "radio frequency issues" were; Barb's other hardphone hard-liner would seem to be someone who could, in fact, have secured a doctor's prescription for a hard phone, had Barb's client not been willing to offer over-the-counter desk phones. In fact, as our population ages, you have to wonder how enterprise communications will find ways to optimize devices and programs for those of us who may have attended too many, let's say, Air Supply concerts in our youth. But that's another whole story.

Overall, when it comes to the future of the deskphone, the signals, so to speak, seem to be mixed. You can find vendors and consultants who'll tell you they're putting in just as many today as ever. You can find case studies like Barb's--wholesale successful efforts to eliminate desk phones.

But one thing's sure: Taking into account replacement cycles on headsets, endpoint licensing charges, and mobile device costs, nobody on our 5-member Lync Tour panel thought you'd be paying any less, in a deskphone-less future, to equip users with the end devices they want to use.

And Quentin Kramer made another point, too--if every desk in a large installation is being used by a worker who's charging up their laptop, tablet, smart phone, and headset, what's that going to do to powering costs?

One thing you can safely predict: Neither the basic end device costs or the powering expense are going to slow this trend down once it's under way in an enterprise.

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