Time to dump that dusty old desktop telephone hand set? The research analysts at Gartner are predicting that the mobile phone will become the primary communication device for business use over the course of the next several years, replacing the corded desktop phones that have been a fixture in offices since the early 1900s.
IT needs to start now to plan a unified communications strategy around the mobile phone, its says.
To get there IT organisations will need to beef up in-building access to wireless signals through by deploying dual-mode phones that switch voice traffic over the corporate Wi-Fi network - which in turn must be optimised to handle voice traffic. And calls routed over the internal Wi-Fi network must integrate with the corporate PBX or VoIP call management system to allow for least-cost call routing.
Currently, in-building reception for mobile tends to be iffy, but dual-mode Wi-Fi, once fully deployed, could make in-building smart phone use more consistent - and substantially reduce operating expenses. Gartner expects deployments of dual-mode Wi-Fi to make big gains by 2015.
The potential savings for heavy voice users, such as sales people who make a lot of international calls, could be in the neighborhood of $2,000 per year per person - an estimate that Gartner says is based on some conservative assumptions and is probably low.
Voice over 3G, which is just starting to roll out, will become another option for managing call costs by pushing cellular voice traffic over less expensive bandwidth usually reserved for data. Unfortunately, quality of service will have to evolve before call quality will be consistent enough for business use.
Finally, IT must plan for the integration of mobile devices into internal mobile unified communications systems for seamless access to voice mail, email, IM etc.