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Over the coming weeks, I’ll be looking at trending topics in the world of enterprise technology and providing my perspective.

I’d like to kick off this new series by examining the most common piece of hardware found in today’s office environments, the desk phone. The desk phone has been a mainstay for many years with recent advances coming in the form of IP-based connectivity or VoIP that relies on a company LAN to place calls. This has also led to the integration of unified communications technology that provides more functionality and even integrates with employee-owned smartphones to connect users to their workplace while traveling or away (our ShoreTel Mobility solution offers this capability).

With the rise of smartphones and tablets in the workplace, and growing user demand to integrate them with corporate phone systems, comes the $64,000 question: do we still need a desk phone?

For many people, the desk phone continues to be a well-utilized tool. However, with more employees becoming mobile and able to work from anywhere, it is worth considering how new mobile devices can replace the desk phone.

I’ve got three important factors you need to consider before embarking on such a transition.

Battery Life
In order to be productive away from the desk, you need a mobile device that can withstand a day’s worth of emailing, Internet use and, of course, voice calls.

Today’s available choices, from the popular iPhone 4s to the latest generation of Android-based devices, offer solid battery life. However, the amount of charge needed to last an entire workday will vary depending on a user’s habits. Today there are third-party solutions to help extend battery life, including cases with built-in power boosts and even belts that moonlight as wall chargers. Battery life is ultimately the biggest challenge as we increasingly rely on our mobile devices throughout the day.

Do you want to embark on that critical call with 15% battery life left? Will it last, or will you be hunting for a cable and an outlet instead of listening or participating in your call?

How a device feels in your hand or next to your ear is important when considering a desk phone replacement.

The traditional phone receiver design is a tried-and-true solution that has withstood the test of time. The new crop of smartphones may not be as comfortable for extended calls but they do offer alternatives like Bluetooth connectivity that syncs with wireless headsets or integrate with a car’s audio system. Beyond that, there’s the low-tech hard-wired headphone-mic combo that gets the job done.

The advantage here has to go to mobile devices for their flexibility.

Call Quality
If the desk phone has one advantage on mobile devices, it’s call quality.

With IP-based desk phones the clarity of voice is impressive. I’d compare it to TV going from black and white to color or more recently from standard to high definition. In some cases, people sound like they are in the same room when on a call. Today’s mobile networks do not offer this type of sound quality. However, this may change as new apps emerge that can place calls through Wi-Fi connections.

These three areas to consider, Pej’s Rule of Three, are not intended to push you or dissuade you away from the mobile device as your only communications device. These rules are designed to allow you to make an informed decision on what works best for you. After all, isn’t that the very essence of self-service IT and BYOD?

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