Something I’m hearing more and more often is that customers want to use their mobile phones as their primary handset in the office, connected to their office phone system. While this integration has been available for quite some time, there seems to be heightened interest as more people talk about BYOD and the “consumerisation” of IT.
These are trends that must rank just behind Cloud as one of the biggest talking points of the year for CIOs, analysts and the IT press. For those unfamiliar with the term, the consumerisation of IT refers to the growing reliance on mobile devices, true public cloud services and social media for business use. BYOD – bring your own device – is a massive part of this, and relates specifically to the steady (and often stealthy) introduction of personal mobile devices (a label which, by the way, includes tablets and laptops as well as mobile phones) into the work place.
It’s something that’s happening within companies of all sizes, from SMEs, to multi national enterprises and everywhere in the vast space between. There’s a multitude of reasons why – common examples include where savvy users are finding company-provided devices to be too prohibitive or locked down, or the budget isn’t there in the first place. Perhaps they simply prefer using their iPhone to the Blackberry or the Nokia 3210 that they were given when they joined the company, and is still going strong (or would be, if it wasn’t at the bottom of their desk drawer!).
The bottom line is that ultimately, users have greater experience with these types of devices from their personal lives and are using this to decide which devices they use at work. IT departments need to decide whether to fight this movement, and risk that some users will disregard the policy anyway (which in turn could lead to lack of security) or to encourage it.
Fortunately, open standards and SIP have taken away many of the technical barriers to encouraging BYOD. They’ve meant that compatibility with a range of mobile phones and tablets is possible, and it’s not just a case of the company needing to provide a certain model or brand, on a certain firmware version to all employees.
That said, however, policies around security, data ownership, best practice/behavioural policy and reimbursement will still need to be developed so the adoption of BYOD isn’t always an obvious choice to make. So what does this mean for the humble desk phone? Is BYOD sure to dominate, and make it extinct? My feeling is that there will always be users and environments where a desk phone makes sense – but it’s important that handset vendors continue to innovate if they’re to remain relevant.
We’re pleased to see that many vendors are demonstrating their commitment to this with some really quite innovative developments. Recently, we’ve been very impressed with Polycom’s new VVX 500 (check out our CEO’s first impressions at this blog post) and we’re also looking forward to Yealink’s new affordable video phone, the VP530, which should be available in the coming months.
So, what do you think? Is the desk phone dying a death? Will it prevail, or merely persevere? And how do you feel about the prospect of saying goodbye to clunky kit on the counter?