The transition from traditional VOIP desk office station handsets to soft phones as applications on smart phones, tablets or desktop computers has been very slow. Smart phones and tablets for one lack battery life and the desktop takes too long to start up with features that are cumbersome to utilize for day to day business voice activity on select Unified Communications Platforms.
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A Soft phone is an application that has all the same features of a telephone handset, but runs on a smart phone, tablet or PC. Often suggested as a fine way to save money, either by removing the need for a phone on the desk or by allowing the routing of calls to and from mobiles over Wi-Fi or the Mobile data network, soft phone integration hasn’t progressed as expected.
In most cases, utilizing cellular minutes to complete a call is the more economical choice over using the mobile data network to complete the same call via a soft phone application. In addition, the quality of calls made via the soft phone mobile data network combo is often unreliable for business calls.
A soft phone on a desktop PC requires the use of a headset or microphone / speakerphone device. Neither of these are a very good option for most business VoIP users. In addition, soft phone features are all completed with a mouse click in non touch screen environments. As comfortable as we all have become with a mouse it’s just not the same as pressing the transfer button with your index finger and dialing on the keypad.
Rather than disappearing, the VOIP desk phone is changing roles, and becoming part of the unified communication strategy. Many business VOIP vendors showcase feature integration between desk phones and desktop-based functionality, whereby users can click to call from their computers and run the call through a desk phone.
Find Me Follow me offers users the ability to publish one number that is programmed to ring the desk phone along with a mobile device so that calls will reach the user wherever they roam. Caller ID information can be altered to indicate that the call is being delivered via the enterprise phone system.
In addition, the voicemail to email feature can deliver messages to an email account on your smart phone. These messages deliver text that tells the user the time of the call, the calling party number, length of the call as well as an audio attachment containing the voice message.
In the short term soft phones will find their niche for users who occasionally operate out of a home office and want to extension dial users on the enterprise voice network. Soft phones also work well for inbound call centers, it is common for these users to wear headsets and the utilization of phone features is rare.
A recent poll conducted among business managers and users regarding the use of desk phones versus soft phones concluded that 70% of managers wanted to eliminate the desk phone while 70% of the users wanted it to stay put.