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What ... No Deskphones?

The Baby Boomers right now are saying, "What....No Deskphones?" The Generation Zs (those born between 1995 and 2015) are saying, "What is a Deskphone?" The students graduating from college and going into the workforce are going to be looking at the strange device on their new desk and say, "What is this used for?" The Baby Boomers, on the other hand, are so familiar with using this device that it has become a 50 year old security blanket, and they are apprehensive to let it go.

Our consulting firm has recently implemented two MS Lync deployments with no deskphones. The only phones that were purchased in both instances were a few hallway phones and conference star phones with full duplex speakerphones built in.

The CIOs from both companies dictated to me that they did not want to purchase any desk sets, only the wireless headsets that allowed the end user to answer an incoming call with the click of the mouse or hitting a button on their wireless device. Even if they were 30 feet from their desks, they could still answer an incoming call. These two companies had 750 employees and 100 employees respectively.

How did we pull this off?
First of all, we trialed headsets from two different manufacturers for 30 days. We asked for several types of headsets since the employees had several different wants and needs. Some wanted "over the ear," "in the ear," "over both ears," or "over just one ear." This narrowed down the search, and we ultimately chose the manufacturer we wanted to use. We took all the headsets and plugged them into 12 six-slot power strips, so we could charge up 72 headsets at a time, Once these were charged, the IT department deployed them within the departments, installed the dongle into the USB port, set up the software, and provided training on the headsets while they were installing them. We found that this was a lot better than just handing employees the unopened boxes and having them figure it all out. This was all done for them, which allowed for a much smoother transition.

Employees were instructed to try this for one week, and after one week if they did not like their headset, we would replace it with a deskphone. Surprisingly, only two employees out of 750 stated that they wanted a deskphone -- 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."

On day one of deployment, there really weren't any issues. The end users felt comfortable with them right away. It also helped that the CIOs and Presidents of both companies tried the headset first. This may have been what helped the Baby Boomers adopt the technology so well. If the CIO and President of this company can conduct business without a deskphone, then the employee felt motivated to follow suit.

The only issue that we found was that the employee could no longer rush into their office and pick up the phone to make a call. They had to log in to their laptop, PC, or Mac with their credentials, wait for it to load and then make a call ... or they could use their cell phone to place a call right away before they logged in.

Also, in the beginning, the CIOs of both companies mentioned that prior to the new technology being deployed, they would see employees sitting at their desks, but talking on the cell phone instead of the deskphone, so they were thinking, Why go to the expense of purchasing deskphones when half of the employees are out of the office or using their cells at their desks anyway?

There were some savings in purchasing headsets over phones since the headsets were less expensive, but price was not the motivating factor to the decision. These deployments happened in 2012 and 2013 respectively. I felt that they both might be premature...removing all deskphones...but they both proved me wrong. Now you might ask, "How did the implementation go using MS Lync as the enterprise's main telephony solution....stay tuned for the next article where we give you the "lessons learned" on deploying MS Lync.

Barbara A. Grothe, is CEO and Principal Consultant of Telecom Resources, Inc., an independent IT and Technology Consultant specializing in giving unbiased advice to enterprise clients throughout North America on SIP Trunking, WAN/LAN deployments, Unified Communications applications, VoIP, and Cloud vs Premise. Barbara is a member of the Society of Communications and Technology Consultants International. Her web site is www.tel-res.com or you may reach her at 317-502-5599.

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