This article originally appeared on Talkin' Cloud on July 11, 2014.
It might seem like career suicide for an employee of a company named Thinking Phone Networks to declare that “the phone is dead,” but it’s true—the desktop business phone, at least as we have always known it, is indeed dead. It has officially fulfilled its purpose, and there is simply no use for it anymore.
Hardware manufacturers that focus on proprietary devices as a primary part of their business models need to be put on notice. Enterprise consumers may not be an organized lobby, but if they were, they would be putting out an “End of Purchase” notice by virtue of sheer lack of interest.
You may question this obituary, considering how many businesses still provide desktop phones as a part of the "standard" cubicle decor for new employees, but rest assured, the desktop phone is on its way out, and we have Apple and Google to thank for that. Ever heard of bring your own device (BYOD)? My guess is that you’re probably sick of hearing about it by now. Nevertheless, the impact of this disruptive technology is yet to be fully realized.
Think about what the desktop phone is used for these days. Have you noticed that the only time you touch it is to answer when people call you? Why don't you use it more? I’ll tell you why—because it doesn't do anything for you. All unified communications (UC) applications are now written for what we stare at—our laptop, tablet or smartphone. Desktop phones, even the ones with cool color touchscreens and cameras, lack mobility and flexibility, so when we are on the move, we want the mobile devices we've come to depend on. These devices have cool things like touchscreens and cameras built in. And most enterprise employees are already carrying them around, so why would a large organization invest hundreds of dollars per user to duplicate something that is already available for free?
Make no mistake: Smart devices have taken over. I reach for mine no matter where I am. These devices, with their inherent ability to join public and private Wi-Fi networks, are just sitting there, eagerly waiting to be fully applied as the enterprise endpoint. Ultimately, the desktop phone has been laid to rest because it is a waste of time and money to support. Why not route all business communications to the device that is more readily available?
The workforce continues to grow younger; new employees don't want to be saddled with the same technology their parents and grandparents used at the office. The evolving workforce requires flexibility, and as a result they command the disruption to continue by paying no mind to the dusty antiques sitting on their desks.
Bottom line, the train has already left the station, and there is no turning back. The phone is dead, Jack.