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The desk phone as an asset for any SME: five facts

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By Ron Cottaar, Head of Marketing EMEA at Gigaset Pro


The telephony market is evolving: almost every citizen has a smartphone. Texting has given way to WhatsApp and video calling is becoming increasingly popular. Still, there is one device that keeps coming back to every desk – and sometimes it stays there for well over a decade. You guessed it: the corporate desk phone. What is on your desk, and how long has it been there? Five facts about how these desk phones are doing, now and in the future.

1. How are sales of IP desk phones going?

Across the telephony endpoint market, IP desk phones are the most dominant product. When it comes to enterprises, the majority of phones are IP based, while the SME sector still mainly uses analogue desktop phones. These are usually not replaced by IP phones until it is strictly necessary. Against some expectations, the overall sales of desk phones are stable. With IP phone sales showing growth. However, the sales cycle is not peaking at the moment due to long ownership period and maturity of the product category. Competition from trends like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and smartphones has also slowed down sales growth.

2. What has had the biggest impact on the desk phone market?

Cloud telephony has had a major impact on the market. This has been one of the reasons for many SMEs to finally upgrade to IP, after using analogue telephone systems for many years. The unified communication (UC) features of the cloud extend the value of the IP desk phone. Another major driver for change is the popularity of the smartphone. However, desktop phones are still the device of choice for longer conversations or calls where reliability and voice quality is paramount.

3. What are some developments/new features in desk phones?

Innovation in the desk phone market has been steady. The focus is usually on creating devices that allow users to be more productive and flexible. Therefore, the next generation of desk phones will be easy to expand and contain touchscreen interfaces that are highly customisable and more built-in UC and CTI features such as video calling. Some desk phones can already be linked to smartphones, so calls can use the cellular network with the more comfortable desktop form factor. DECT desk phones can be linked to multi cell DECT solutions via a wireless connection. Other desktop features that are innovative include sharing contacts between cloud based services such as Gmail and iCloud. This level of connectivity enhances user productivity while benefiting from desk phone by allowing calls to use enhanced speaker quality and hands-free functions.

4. What are the benefits of an IP desk phone for SMEs?

IP desk phones allow SMEs to gain more flexibility and value from telephony systems. Many businesses will use the same desk phone for several years. The upgrade to IP allows for easier access to UC. By moving to IP, SMEs can generate cost saving such as least cost routing of calls and low CAPEX access to cloud telephony. There are many ways to communicate from Instant Messages to video chat, but the telephone call and desk phone is still the most common baseline method that all businesses maintain. This level of mass adoption and communality – whether a headset is used or not – is probably the single biggest benefit.

5. With the range of other communication options available, why are desk phones so resilient?

The enduring nature of the desk phone unlike, say, a fax machine, is that it delivers the most effective way to have a two way audio conversation. Features like the push button number dialler, programmable hotkeys, and an ergonomic handset, plus the ability to easily add dedicated accessories, make it extremely fit for purpose. The IP desk phone is also a great starting point for accessing UC services. Where smartphones may have signal coverage concerns and software based VoIP services like GoToMeeting or Skype for Business may run into technical challenges; the desk phone just works. In addition, the desk phone is a piece of office equipment that you know will keep working for the next decade. It is hard to find another business purchase that has the same level of ROI, which makes the telephone systems in general such resilient purchases.