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UC: Putting the Pieces Together

OK, I found what looks like an enduring use case for old-fashioned desk phones, handset and all.

On a visit to our corporate office in San Francisco this past week, I borrowed the desk of someone who was on travel, and worked there for the better part of a day. Now, back home in Illinois, at our group's office , I rarely pick up the receiver of my own desk phone. In fact, I rarely use it at all for one-on-one calls, though it still gets a fair amount of use for dialing into conference calls, for which I use a corded headset. But when I went to dial into a call from San Francisco, I immediately realized I had to use the handset of my colleague's desk: It's really not good form to borrow someone else's headset. So for companies that do a lot of hoteling, desk phones really should look and feel more like common-area phones, because that's what desks are now--common areas.

I expect that Unified Communications proponents will argue that the long-term transition will be to a world in which the default configuration is a single Bluetooth headset for both your cell phone and your laptop's softphone, and when you're in hoteling mode, you don't need to worry about your co-worker's phone, because just plugging in your laptop gets you telephony as well. Many enterprises may be there already--but the transition is ongoing.

The variety of communications use cases is an issue that Zeus Kerravala also takes up this week, in a post entitled, "Must-Haves for Remote Workers ." It's a great summary of what it takes to make a home office truly enterprise-grade. The list includes video and the environmentals and peripherals to make it worthwhile; effective cellular coverage; useful PSTN connectivity; and more. It's well beyond the "good-enough" level that most of us default to when we're on the road, or in our current state of telecommuting.

The issue here is less about the specifics of the remote work scenario that Zeus spells out; it's the fact that providing communications service to enterprise users in the 21st century will most likely continue to consist of an aggregation of point solutions and reactive deployments that respond to user requests or complaints. We hear this a lot from our attendees at Enterprise Connect--the BYOD phenomenon has led end users or departments to want particular features or services, and so it's hard to step back and create a larger vision of what communications should be within your enterprise.

This fragmentation is also the subject of Dave Michels' latest post, "The UC Pipe Dream ," in which Dave rightly points out that communications media, modes and interfaces have proliferated, not consolidated or unified. He writes, "Despite living in the era of UC, the number of communications services and clients in use on corporate desktops have exploded. It goes beyond multiple email and voicemail accounts to include social networks, SMS texting, and numerous line-of-business applications with embedded communications."

Enterprise communications is increasingly becoming about service delivery, not equipment provisioning.

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