I remember starting my first job, and sadly, I’m old enough that the only technology I was provided with was my deskphone and the passcode to log into my voicemail. When I traveled for work, I used payphones and hotel phones along with AT&T phone cards to connect with clients and the home office (and a separate phone card for calling my wife). Needless to say, times have changed.
Today the voice communication options for knowledge workers both in the office and on the road seem endless. This month (so far) I’ve been on a three country Skype conference via my desktop (and hands free headset), sat in on a Microsoft Lync team meeting with a client, participated in a GoToWebinar as a speaker from my mobile phone and made calls from my old deskphone (not the one from my first job). That got me thinking….with so many more communications options for employees, what are businesses giving their employees today instead of the good old deskphone? And how are they determining which employees are provided with what tools, because they are not all going to be the same, right?
According to Carrie Tozzi, the Segment Marketing Manager for Office Products at headset maker Jabra, the first step for businesses when upgrading their audio endpoints should be defining the voice communications “use case” for the different types of workers in a business. “Companies want all their employees to be as productive as possible and have a secure, professional-level experience on every call. When it comes to communications and mobility, however, that can mean very different things for different types of employees.”
Keeping it Simple: Three Audio Endpoint Use Cases
Whether device upgrades are precipitated by the implementation of a new mobility strategy, an MS Lync deployment, or just because it’s time, it makes sense to start by defining the audio endpoint use cases for your workforce. “Defining the types of users, their telecommunications and mobility requirements and determining what technology they need to be as productive as possible saves time and missteps down the road,” says Tozzi. She suggests a simple yet effective way to segment knowledge workers inside a company utilizing three categories; office workers, road warriors and corridor warriors.
Watch The Webinar: Shifting to Unified Communications For the SMB
These are folks like the accountants or procurement teams. They work mostly at their desks and their computer and while they may make a lot of calls and have significant productivity considerations, they have more limited mobility requirements. Deskphones are still currently in use in a big way with this group, and they may make phone calls via the PBX, or connect to a softphone via the LAN or WLAN. The trend amongst this group is ‘hands free’ with wired or wireless headsets because of the obvious increase in productivity they provide…not to mention the elimination of a vast number neck cricks from trying to hold a phone and type at the same time.
These are the folks that spend 50% or less of their time at their desk (or their home office) and the rest of the time in a car, at a prospect’s, a customer’s, a vendor’s or at a hotel. They talk, often with video, via their smartphones, computers or tablets and still may use the office phone system when they are in the office. According to Tozzi, wireless headsets, especially those that can effectively manage the transition between multiple devices (computer, mobile phone, deskphone), locations and networks are where the market is headed for these users. It is about increasing productivity and delivering reliability and security while ensuring their mobility is never hampered.
I like this term. These are the folks that are based in the office, but are hustling and moving around. Tozzi explains, “They are the accountants that need to continue their call while they walk down to grab files. Or the inside sales people that need to stay on the call while they walk down the corridor to grab the print job. They are the executives who want to be able to pick up a call from their landline while across the office.” Increasing productivity for these folks requires wireless audio endpoints, potentially with networking options to increase call range (like leveraging the DECT wireless standard instead of Bluetooth).
There are many job descriptions in most companies that fit each of these criteria. By segmenting employees into the three categories, the company is then positioned to do a deeper dive into all the specific ways these team members are communicating with stakeholders. Once these have been defined, determining the best potential devices becomes a cost-benefit decision based on productivity, comfort and mobility criteria. Those details will have to wait for a future post.