For a long time I’ve been telling anyone who will listen that the desk phone/landline’s days are numbered – hardly earth shattering news.
Then a BBC news story (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23448353) prompted me to walk-the-walk and not just talk-the-talk and I’ve now abandoned the desk phone altogether. But more of that later – first, let’s rewind a bit.
The desk phone has had a remarkable run – 130 years of service with greater than 99.99999999% up-time – wow!
Then email came along. I’m old enough to remember when email first arrived in the public sector. Us fresh faced IT people would try to explain to managers across the business why they needed an email account. “I don’t have time for email” they’d say “I’ve got work to do!”
We tried to explain that email was the job or, at very least, a vital tool to help you do the job better. In the end they understood.
We tried to explain that Twitter was the job or, at very least, a vital tool to help you do the job better. They are beginning to understand.
At the moment my organisation is testing Yammer – an internal social media tool from Microsoft. Guess what people are saying? “I don’t have time for Yammer”….you get the picture.
Something has got to give, I thought. We can’t keep adopting new, better, faster communications channels without dropping some outdated technologies – if we try to do everything we’ll end up doing not very much.
So I spent a month or so considering how I use communication tools for my work and found that the tools I use are, in order of importance…
- Email (from my personal smartphone linked to Exchange using a BYOD app)
- Twitter (on my smartphone)
- Yammer (on my smartphone)
- Email (from Outlook on my laptop)
- Mobile Phone (my smartphone again)
- Desk phone in the office
Our smartphones are actually small, powerful, computers – the fact that they can be used to make voice calls is secondary to their ability to allow us to stay online and do amazing things with the tap of a right thumb.
So what’s my desk phone for?
Not much, as it turns out. A brief audit of incoming calls over the course of 3 weeks revealed that 85% of calls were cold calls from sales people (spam). The remainder were from contacts who’d have received a much faster response (minutes instead of hours) if they’d emailed me instead. Needless to say, all my most important contacts – my managers, my peers, my team – have my personal mobile number.
I’ve now diverted my desk phone to a voice message asking people to email me and it’s working well. I get a bit more email spam I guess – but that’s much quicker and easier to deal with than trying to end a call with a pushy sales guy who wants to convince me to buy something that the organisation really doesn’t need.
We have 1200 desks in our office – each with a VOIP phone (expensive pieces of kit). When the phones reach end of life it will cost at least £80,000 to replace them all (for the hardware alone) – I think I’ll be arguing the case against.
For those people who must have a traditional landline – contact centre people for example – a softphone client and USB headset will do the job well.
So it seems that my smartphone with all its wonderful apps has relegated my desk phone to the scrapheap. Hurrah!