Don’t Fight BYOD – Join It At The Desktop!
Let’s face it!
All business users are mobile consumers too, and they are all going to be carrying their own personal smartphones at work. In addition, they may also be carrying tablets in place of bulky laptops, to exploit “cloud”-based applications. The question is, how can that fact of life be exploited to improve multi-modal business communications while also minimizing communication costs?
UC has clearly been driven by the need for flexibility in business communications. However, legacy desktop communications handled flexibility with separate and expensive voice and visual endpoints, connections, and software applications. With multi-modal wireless smartphones and tablets, UC enablement has become both necessary and practical. However, now that the mobile devices can do almost everything that the desktop endpoints do and more, the BYOD question arises about the need for having two different endpoints for an end user who may need both wired and wireless of connections.
Just as many consumers have already abandoned their residence wired phones and home PCs in favor of more flexible mobile smartphones, we can now expect a similar trend to take place for business users, whether working in an office or from home. However, the problem with using those mobile devices in place of wired desktop phones and PCs is that:
1. Battery life won’t support prolonged usage for either long phone calls or extended online application access
2. Voice quality is not always good
3. Handset control of “hard phones” is ergonomically better than screen-based control
4. BYOD considerations require “dual persona” controls over call/message management
The Desktop Hard Phone for the Post-PC Employee
In recognition of this need by business end users, ShoreTel has just announced its new desktop offering, the ShoreTel Dock, coupled with ShoreTel Mobility, to allow BYOD employees to use their mobile smartphones and tablets as “portable PCs” that can also work with “smart” hard desk phones in an office or at home. Because they are multi-modal devices, the smartphones and tablets take over the roles of the desktop PC in terms of access to “cloud” based applications, “softphone” screen-based telephony options, and multi-modal messaging functions.
With the use of the ShoreTel Dock, those mobile devices can now also benefit from a low-cost desktop hard phone add-on that takes care of the inherent limitations of the mobile devices mentioned above. It also retains the familiar and simple options for initiating and receiving phone calls that legacy “hard” desk phones have long offered.
While the multi-modal mobile devices handle all forms of communications, ranging from text messaging to Instant Messaging to voice and video connections, ShoreTel’s Dock and ShoreTel Mobility enable easy visual access to those new communication functions. They have also added a Message Waiting Indicator light, which is controlled by their voicemail application, and therefore doesn’t reflect any other forms of messaging activity. Given that the multimodal smartphones and tablets are handling all kinds of incoming calls and messages, it would be nice to see that MWI light tie in with a more comprehensive display of all the different kinds of messages that are “waiting,” not just “Visual Voicemail.” Voicemail messages are no longer necessarily more important than other modes of messages and notifications!
I was particularly glad to see that ShoreTel has incorporated “dual persona” capabilities in its call management functions for both incoming and outbound calls. This allows job-related calls to be managed separately and differently from personal calls on the same device. Although traditional phone calling by keying in a phone number will not disappear overnight, it is also obvious that “contextual” contacts from a directory display, a text or voice message, or from a document that is linked to a particular individual or group of individuals, is the way of the presence-based UC future.
ShoreTel seems to be moving quickly to this future, with its integration with Microsoft Lync, while also preserving familiar telephony procedures and user interfaces for a graceful migration for desktop business users.