You don’t have to try hard to find predictions of the demise of the desktop telephone, an office staple. Forecasts like these systems could soon become difficult to purchase and service’ are common.
Ditching the desk phone may be tempting, but should enterprises do it? The office phone certainly has its limitations, not least, tethering people to a specific location. However, their many advantages brought about by significant advances in the technology mean that these perennials of the workplace will remain relevant to virtually all businesses for years to come. Let’s look at the journey of the desktop telephone from its humble origins to the multimedia workstations that they are today. I will highlight the benefits that these telecommunications devices bring to modern businesses and their staff.
Society usually marks technological evolutions such as the revolution of ‘dumb’ phones to smartphones with massive fanfare. In recent years, from its origins, the much-loved desktop phone has developed in functionality and technology in recent years. Somehow, the developments of the desktop into smart integrated multimedia communication stations feels like it has gone without notice, which I believe is a travesty for today’s businesses. I believe modern office phones still have a valuable role to play in making companies work. Let’s examine the evolutionary journey, capabilities of today’s smart integrated business solutions to understanding why businesses may be ill-advised to ditch their desktop telephones.
History of the telephone
People have appreciated the telephone’s potential of phones to transform communication since the inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, spoke the first recognisable sentence ever transmitted electrically to his assistant, Thomas Watson, in an adjacent room, over the Liquid Transmitter on 10th March 1876. Admittedly, that may not sound remarkable at first glance. Nonetheless, it proved that we could have wired communication.
A few months later, Bell’s Double Pole Membrane Transmitter and Iron Box Receiver enabled him to transmit and receive the world’s first one-way long-distance telephone call. The first two-way long distance telephone conversation was between Montreal and Quebec, Canada followed just a year after that. Businesses first leased The Wooden Box and Wooden Hand Telephones for the workplace less than a year after the telephone’s invention in 1877, following Francis Blake’s design of the transmitter that significantly improved the voice clarity of the first generation phones.
The 1930s saw rapid innovations in telephone styles following improvements in battery and home for the bell into the base of devices. The analogue desktop telephones that we recognise were born. Analogue phones, built on standard copper wire and POTS (plain old telephone service) phones, they were reliable, boasted acceptable voice quality, and had the essential features you might find in a telephone such as hold, mute, redial, and speed dial.
Fast forward several decades for the advent of advanced analogue telephony that enabled including Call-Waiting, Call-Display, and Voice Mail on offer. The Vista 350 was remarkable for providing the ability to access services via the telephone through its relatively large display screen such as home banking, catalogue shopping, libraries and restaurant guides. [Don’t laugh] This high-tech telecoms device also allowed users to store up to 50 names and numbers alphabetically and provided hands-free talking with a built-in speaker.
The standard argument is that mobile technology and all the Internet capabilities they provide will hasten the end of the office desktop telephone as a form of workplace communications. On the contrary, the need for the ‘office’ phone for is now more vital for employers and staff. These are the biggest reasons the desktop is not going away anytime soon.
Benefits of desktop phones
- It’s good to talk
You just can’t beat a good conversation, especially when it comes to running a business. Research shows that nearly half of employees pick up the phone to call an enterprise at least once a week. Furthermore, 65% of people prefer to contact a firm with a workplace phone. There’s still a need for companies to continue to invest in their voice telecoms systems.
- Together but apart
Mobile devices blur the lines between work and non-work time. In fact, many employees prefer to have a work phone that allows them to separate their work and personal lives better. That is, when they are not sitting at their desk, they crave becoming less reachable. The workplace phone provides a clear demarcation and gives us our free time back.
- Status anxiety
We like the feeling of credibility and status that having a dedicated fully-equipped workspace gives us. For most professionals, a desktop phone is part of the objects that make us feel important in at work. When everyone has a work mobile, it is unthinkable that employers will seek to differentiate his or her people based on the costs or functionality of the mobile devices he or she gets.
- It’s all about the features, silly!
Old PBX phones were great for making and taking calls but good for little else. Modern desktop phones run on VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) systems that route your voice traffic over your existing Internet connection. Internet network technology that underpins desktop phone hardware enables many more unified communications (voice and data) functionality than many of us could imagine not so long ago. Phones like the Yealink T46S & Yealink T48S SFB have plenty of features that may not be available on standard smartphones such as full Internet browser, easy access to company directories, executive tools to manage remote workers and increase productivity regardless of the type of work being carried out, and the ability to stay connected with the right information at all times. Our office desktop phone has become the epitome of simplicity and sophistication that provides the much greater unified communications feature-set that SMBs want to improve productivity.
- Cut the cord
Pesky wires that tethered workers to their desks is the biggest drawback of office phones. Thankfully, the wires are disappearing as the future of business telephony is wireless. Workers will be freed from the constraints of location and holding devices to their ears when they make or receive calls. The advantage for businesses is that workers will be able to continue being productive by utilising their hands, whether on-site or away from their workstations. Much more fundamental to the evolution of the office phone than the PBX to VoIP change is the shift from hardware to software-based telecoms solutions. Software-controlled solutions offer a superior upgrade path and more advanced features for integration with existing and future business systems such as CRM, messaging and workflow. The fact is that software already exists to transform your computer into a potent add-on to your desktop phone.
Unleash the full capabilities of your desktop phone when you connect it with high-end, Sleek and elegant wireless Bluetooth headsets like the Plantronics CS530 or Plantronics Savi W740 Cordless Headset so that you can quickly and conveniently make, take and manage and control your calls via your computer, regardless of where the desktop phone is situated.
More and more businesses are rightly abandoning analogue copper-based phone lines and switching over to a fibre network. However, given the modern desktop phone’s features and functions, software and add-ons, the office landlines are not going anywhere, phone numbers are staying the same, and customers will not need to do anything differently…The main change is that we merely shift our connection from the local exchange to a roadside cabinet, which turns your landline calls into a signal the new networks can understand.
The most important thing for any business thinking of getting or upgrading their telephone system is to understand the options on the market, deciding what kind of service do you need and selecting the right supplier.
Contact us at Bellcom Communications to discuss your business telephone and package options as we supply the latest desktop and mobile devices, as well as networks, including those mentioned in this article.