Enterprises may waste £10bn on IP phones

Many businesses are needlessly spending on expensive IP phones with screens, industry analyst Gartner has said. In fact, as much as $20.30bn (£10.70bn) could be thrown away worldwide between 2005 and 2010, on devices that are not really needed. In Europe, Middle East and Africa that figure could amount to more than $5bn during the five year time frame.

“Many companies are replacing old phones with fancy, screen-based IP phones and IP/PBXs with related hardware. However, most users continue to use the new phones like their old phones, only with a few new capabilities, such as viewing missed calls or for directory dialling,” said Bob Hafner, managing vice president for Gartner. “Ironically, in most businesses, the IP screen phone is placed on the desk beside a PC that has a much bigger and higher-resolution screen.”

Over the next five years, companies worldwide are expected to buy more than150 million IP phones. The EMEA region alone will buy more than 50 million of these. But for 75 per cent of those purchases, companies are spending at least $150 more than they need to, Hafner believes.

A better solution might be buying low-end IP phones without a screen and connecting that phone to the PC with unified communications (UC) applications.

Hafner argues this option enables the user to improve productivity integrating communications applications with services such as instant messaging, unified messaging, presence, personal agent, conferencing and mobility services to create a converged desktop with the voice communications on the phone.

Gartner claims these applications are far more productive than the screen on an IP phone and are about the same cost. Companies with employees that do not have a PC on their desk, such as retail, healthcare and manufacturing are the sweet spot for these screen feature devices, but if there is a PC on the desk, then companies should consider a low-cost IP phone, Gartner said.

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