Is there a softphone in your future?

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 In our latest research we’ve found that a whopping 70% of companies are increasing their deployment of softphones, while only 18% of firms have no plans to deploy softphones of any kind. Softphones are now becoming commonplace, thanks to their inclusion as a core part of UC desktop clients from vendors including Avaya, Cisco, IBM Lotus, and Microsoft, and increasing familiarity with public softphone-based telephony services such as Skype. Companies with a higher percentage of under-30 employees are more likely to adopt softphones, likely due to the familiarity of the younger generation with software-based communications. Most companies are using softphones in one of three ways: - Replacement of desktop phones - For teleworkers for whom provisioning a dedicated desktop phone is cost prohibitive; - For traveling workers, such as salespeople and service professionals, to provide telephony services via laptops. A goal of many IT managers is to leverage softphones to reduce to reduce telephony infrastructure investment. While the cost of a good headset often offsets the savings from not buying a physical phone, softphone adopters cite their ability to reduce wiring and Ethernet infrastructure. However, there are several drawbacks to adopting a softphone-only infrastructure: -Windows XP does not support prioritization for voice applications, so a successful deployment of softphones is predicated on upgrading machines to Windows 7. -Many individuals are reluctant to use softphones coupled with headsets, preferring instead to rely on a traditional handset with speakerphone, caller ID, speed dial buttons, and message waiting indicators. -Voice quality management for softphones requires integration of those responsible for supporting voice with those responsible for supporting desktops. -Software-based voice (and video) may be incompatible with desktop virtualization efforts unless desktop virtualization architecture supports local processing of voice and video data. Large, distributed organizations should evaluate the benefits of softphones, but they should not have expectations that are too aggressive. For example, softphones can be very feasible for the following, tactical scenarios: -Mobile workers and home workers; -Hoteling workers; -Those working in temporary locations (e.g. field research or trials); -Contact-center and support personnel. By creating classifications of workers (e.g. field sales, field service, backoffice, IT, etc.), organizations can determine for each profile the applicability of softphones.

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