Everything You Need in a Phone…And Nothing You Don’t

With any good purchase, you want to include the functions/features you need, but exclude the functions/features you don’t. Otherwise, you either miss out on things you need (under buy) or pay too much for things you’ll never use (over buy). As an example, when buying a car, do you really need the super-duty, hydraulic, self-aligning towing package built strong enough to allow you to move a house? No, because the chances of you moving a house by hitching it to your car are pretty remote (okay, keep reading, I do have a point here).

The same is true with the purchase of a business telephone handset. Does it make sense to try and cram elaborate functionality into a phone with a small display and its cumbersome multi-button interface, when all of that functionality can be accessed much better via your desktop computer with its full size monitor, keyboard, and mouse?

In our research, we have found that businesses are looking for four key attributes from the telephone handset:

1. A quality audio path
2. Affordability
3. Simplicity
4. Rich functionality

Those first three items are made available with a telephone endpoint that in essence is "dumbed down." The fourth item is then achieved by using a rich desktop software application. For contact center agents and headset converts, doesn’t that just make sense to you?

The smart guys from Gartner stated…"While IP desk phones increasingly offer sophisticated functionality, their complexity and cost are barriers for adoption among many organizations. Though the use of USB headsets with softphones offers an alternative, reliability issues often preclude their use. We’ve been telling clients for awhile now to lower their infrastructure costs by deploying low-cost phones, while supporting advanced telephony features via PC-based call control applications. By further distilling that endpoint device down to its core functionality, organizations can realize even more savings while still maintaining a clear voice signal and advanced features."

They got it right — lower your cost and increase your functionality. Does it get any better than that?

So I, and others, have blogged on this topic for the last nine months. See:

http://www.inin.com/Blog/archive/2009/01/26/whats-in-a-phone.aspx
http://www.inin.com/Blog/archive/2009/01/29/Non-Need-for-a-phone.aspx
http://www.inin.com/Blog/archive/2009/04/22/media-phones.aspx
http://www.inin.com/Blog/archive/2009/11/12/sip-softphone-versus-sip-hard-phone.aspx

When we started the Interactive Intelligence blog crew, we committed to not be self promoting. So in that spirit, I will introduce you to the only two devices on the market that I know of that fit the bill of delivering everything you need in a phone and nothing you don’t. The first is from Plantronics and is called the Plantronics IP40. The second is from Interactive Intetelligence and is called the Interaction SIP Station.

Plantronics IP40
http://www.plantronics.com/north_america/en_US/products/office/headset-connectors/ip40

Interaction SIP Station

http://www.inin.com/ProductSolutions/Pages/Interaction-SIP-Station.aspx

I’m not trying to sell you a phone, BUT I am trying to sell you on the concept of letting desktop software applications do what they do best and letting telephone endpoints do what they do best…not mixing up those priorities…and saving money in the process.

As always…very interested in your comments and point of view. Know of another low-function, low-cost telephone device? Let me know who makes it and I’ll add it here.

Joe Staples — Dumb Phone Advocate