When it comes to desktop phones, to paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of their demise are grossly exaggerated. Despite the rapid growth of remote work and the expanded use of video, the deployment of desktop phone systems remains important in the communications landscape.
According to a 2021 study by Metrigy, which surveyed 395 companies around the world, almost a third of companies plan to expand their use of desktop phones. The Unified Communications Management and Endpoints report also found that nearly a quarter of respondents said workers still prefer desktop phones over headsets, while nearly 23% provided desktop phones to remote workers who wanted them.
Those who prefer desktop phones cite a number of reasons, including better sound quality without the risk of interference or Bluetooth dropouts; availability of features, including shared lines and speed-dial buttons; and finally the good old message waiting indicator light. In addition to individual use, desktop phones remain a mainstay in meeting rooms, public areas, reception desks and call center agent installations.
The following is required to successfully support a desktop phone system installation:
- give users the choice. If you don’t allow desktop phones, you don’t have to worry about supporting them. However, with a significant percentage of employees still wanting a phone, it makes sense to offer desktop phones as an available option.
- ensure performance. Traditionally, desktop phones connect to networks via wired Ethernet, with network administrators deploying them in their own VPN. This prioritizes voice over other traffic that is less sensitive to delay and jitter. Today, desktop phones often connect to Wi-Fi networks or to PCs via USB. This makes voice prioritization a challenge unless it can be achieved through the Wi-Fi access points. To that end, proactive testing and voice performance management — right down to the phone — are critical.
- Phone and desktop integration. Choosing between a softphone and a desk phone doesn’t have to be an either/or decision. Most calling platforms today support integration, allowing employees to take or control a call from a desktop app while using the desktop phone as the audio device.
- Regular addition of new features. Some modern desktop phones can charge cell phones and often include features that allow users to connect their devices to headsets or cell phones via Bluetooth. Features such as background noise suppression and voice-to-text are also becoming increasingly available. Regularly updating desktop phone deployments allows you to take advantage of these new features as they are introduced.
- manage devices. When deploying desktop phones, organizations must proactively monitor deployment, control inventory and manage voice performance. Most phone providers provide management apps that give support staff easy access to configuration information. In some cases, these apps are integrated with IT service management and unified communications management platforms. Don’t ignore the need to manage endpoints.
Last but not least, and perhaps most importantly, ensure that all desktop phone system installations comply with the requirements of Kari’s Law and RAY BAUM’s Act in the United States and comply with local emergency service regulations in other countries. This means that when a user makes a 911 call from a desk phone, that call must be routed to the appropriate emergency call center or 911 operator with sufficiently accurate location information to ensure speedy routing. The security personnel on site must also be informed. Support for this feature is especially important when providing desktop phones to remote workers. You can’t assume that the phone sitting on a desk in a home office isn’t being used to dial 911.
Desk phones are likely to be around for a long time, and their capabilities will continue to improve. Successfully supporting desktop phones requires proactive management, intelligent integration, and a focus on optimizing the employee experience.
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