Enterprise Communications

Will Cell Phones Replace Landlines? Yes. The Real Question is, Will They Replace PCs?

by Melanie Turek 14 May 2010
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Many in the telecom industry wonder whether (or, increasingly, when) cell phones will replace desktop phones in the enterprise. Just as consumers are cutting their landline services, going it alone with cell phones for voice communications, we can expect businesses to do the same. Once FMC, SIP trunking and other cost-cutting technologies become defacto in the enterprise, it just makes sense to give employees a single hardware device for all calling needs, and a soft client (preferably UC-enabled) for management (and use when someone is actually sitting at a PC).

But the bigger question is whether cell phones will replace computers for the majority of employees. A recent article in the Times says that cell phones are used more for data than for calls. Indeed, people appear to rarely use their phones to actually talk; rather, they use them to text and email, as well as to post status updates and tweets, manage their calendars, and surf the Net.

For employees whose jobs require interaction with relatively well-defined applications (CRM, SCM and ERP systems, for instance), and communication with other employees, partners and customers, a smart phone with access to enterprise applications and a UC client may be all they need. (Those of us who spend a lot of time in Word or PowerPoint will still need a PC--have you ever tried to type more than 100 words on an iPhone? It isn't fun.)

This has implications for IT--if necessarily affects the types of applications IT deploys, as well as the devices it supports--but also for the business in general, as employees are enabled and expected to work from anywhere, anytime. Most important, companies that want to get out ahead of this curve should start paying attention to the types of mobile devices its employees use. For instance, for maximum protection (of intellectual property, business contacts and proprietary information), companies should own the mobile phones its employees use for business.

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