We are now in a world of Unified Communications (UC) and we use many devices and modalities to communicate. There are still many aspects of the telephone that make it a preferred communications device, though it is now one of many device types to choose from. Lets take a deeper look into why users still want some of the features one might associate with the "traditional telephony experience" provided by a telephone even as we embrace the newer UC and collaboration capabilities of Lync. When we begin the journey to making the transition to UC, many Lync users start with IM/chat and use group conference call capabilities for collaboration in parallel to having a telephone powered by a PBX or IP PBX. Even with a phone on the desk, as IM becomes the new dial tone (“U there?”, “Is now a good time to talk”), when your users want to talk they expect to be able to place their “voice call” from their UC client. For most companies today, that UC client is Microsoft Lync. But as we make the transition to UC, we want the benefits of UC without having to give up the better aspects of the traditional telephony experience that are familiar and useful. With Lync, the telephone is still a powerful and purposeful appliance that makes feature access more intuitive and improves the user experience.
Do I need a phone?
As companies realize the significant cost savings of migrating voice users from a PBX to Lync, one of the first questions is often “Which users will need a phone?” Since many user’s initial experience of a Lync voice call is with a headset (back when they also had a PBX and a phone), some may think “why not just use headsets?” While a headset and Lync client or a Lync client on a mobile device may be suitable for some calls, it will not be the optimal setup or experience for all calls. As a comparison, consider that now there are ways to watch your favorite TV shows on a tablet or a phone. Does that mean the television is dead? Absolutely not. We are simply moving further towards a multi-modal viewing paradigm where, if you’re not in your living room in front of your preferred larger screen flat screen television with a great sound system, there are more options to watch from other places on other devices, albeit with a smaller screen. Similarly, when moving away from PBX-based telephony to voice-enabled Lync, a phone or conference phone will still be a better device choice to use for many call scenarios.
While we can initiate or answer calls from a Lync client, a telephone or conference phone often offers a better call experience after the call is launched. With more than 100 features to consider, many of these features are unique to the telephone and are not available with the Lync client alone. Some of the “traditional telephony” features and newer Lync features that Polycom telephones and conference stations provide when with Lync are:
Always on—ready for calls
Never experience “zero battery—can’t make a call”
Dial pad, mute key, volume up/down keys
Choice of handset,speakerphone,or headset
Call Park / Call Pickup
View "favorites" presence status on the phone and expansion modules
HD Voice Quality
Room based calls for meeting participants
Better together operation with Lync
360 degree “roundtable” video experience from the conference room
Let's look more closely at some of these.
The “dial pad” is very convenient to have on a phone, especially when you dial into a conference bridge and need to enter a pin code or navigate through a contact center’s IVR (integrated voice response) menu. You can do this from a Lync client with the virtual keypad, but if your PC desktop has as many windows open as mine does now, the convenience of a dial pad on the telephone is a feature that many users would not want to give up. One naturally reaches towards the phone for communications related features where it is convenient. The same is true for the mute key and other feature keys.“Call Park” as a feature key on a phone is much more intuitive then remembering that you have to hover over a Lync client’s phone/mic icon to initiate a hold/transfer operation where ”parking a call” is an option.
Being “Always on—ready for calls” is also an important value of a “traditional telephone”. When you are already a minute or two late getting into the office (bad traffic) and you’re supposed to be on a conference call, the last thing you want to do is painfully wait for your PC to boot up to use your Lync client with a headset to place a call. With more than 20 phones in Polycom’s portfolio that can be registered to a Lync server, an “always on” phone or conference phone should be provisioned for every conference room and nearly every Lync user type.
Conference room phones
Imagine meeting in a room with several meeting participants from a Lync client on a laptop. It’s a pretty bad call experience trying to use a laptop’s speaker and microphone. Polycom’s Lync qualified conference phones with HD Voice will ensure everyone can clearly hear and be heard in the conversation even 15 to 20 feet away at the end of the long conference table.
So who might do well mostly using their Lync client for Lync calls? The same users who had an extension on a PBX prior to migrating to Lync but mostly used their cellphone—sales executives come to mind. Even then, when working from a home office from their laptop, a phone like the Polycom CX300 R2 USB phone offers a welcome opportunity to use a speakerphone instead of a headset. And when using the speakerphone, with a telephone you can always pick up the handset if a lawnmower or leafblower outside starts to be a distraction to the far end. Polycom is the only vendor that offers a USB phone that is qualified with Lync.
"Better Together" operation with Lync
For users in the office, Polycom CX and VVX series phones offer an optimized experience with Lync client. For example, if starting in “IM/chat”, when it’s time to turn the chat session into real time voice communications, clicking on the “call icon” can launch the call on the phone giving the user the ability to choose to use a handset, speakerphone, or headset—depending on their preference. The Polycom CX600 phone is tethered to the Lync client via the PC’s USB port to accommodate this type of interoperability. The Polycom VVX series phones use the “Better Together over Ethernet” feature to do the same thing. VVX phones also support expansion modules and features like Boss/Admin, which can improve productivity and bring “PBX-like” feature operation to users in a way that a Lync client alone simply cannot do.
The Polycom CX5100 and CX5500 Unified Conference Stations add a 360 degree panoramic video view and active speaker detection when meeting in conference rooms. The CX5500 doubles as an Open SIP conference phone which makes it a great investment for companies who use Lync today but still have an IP PBX. If you have not fully transitioned from your Nortel, Avaya, or Cisco IP PBX to Lync, you can register the CX5500 as a speakerphone to your legacy PBX for voice only calling or use it for video collaboration with Lync. Once you are fully transitioned to Lync, you can register it to Lync instead. The CX5100 is also included as a camera option for the Polycom CX8000, a dedicate room system for Lync that offers a unique collaboration solution. To learn more about making video collaboration easy and intuitive, register for the October 29th Live Webinar: Efficiently Bridging Video Islands with Microsoft Lync.
Polycom's broad portfolio
Only Polycom has voice endpoint and conference room solutions that match any user profile and office environment needs, including video. The best way to sort through all the user types, use case scenarios, phones choices and more than 100 features is to request a demo from Polycom or a Polycom channel partner. Polycom’s large selection of “Lync Qualified’ phones help simplify your transition from the PBX or IP PBX to Unified Communications with Microsoft Lync. No other vendor has the portfolio breadth that Polycom has with our 40+ solutions that are interoperable with Microsoft. And no matter how you deploy your Lync UC environment—on-premises, in the cloud, or as a hybrid deployment—with Polycom phones featuring Polycom HD Voice, your audio experience will be remarkably clear with the call quality you expect with Polycom.
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