by Phillip Redman

2016 mobility predictions: lose the notebook and desk phone

Jan 14, 2016
MobileSmall and Medium BusinessUnified Communications

It's time for mobile users to start shedding unused and unneeded hardware.

At this time of year, most of us are looking forward to what the New Year has to bring in terms of new technologies and opportunities. It’s not a coincidence that the annual consumer electronics gadget-fest in Las Vegas, CES, takes place the first week back after the holiday. This year’s predictions sound the same as last year’s: drones, wearables, IoT. Here’s a couple of my own that place less emphasis on technology and more on impact and how users behave.

Prediction: The tablet is the new notebook. 20 percent of notebook users will use some type of tablet for the majority of their work.

I was a technology market analyst for over a decade. And the one question that would keep coming up was whether we would ever get down to one mobile computing device for enterprise users. Up until now, the answer has usually been “no” for most users. Most users carry three devices—phone, tablet and notebook-because each device supports specific needs, especially for the mobile professional. Even though the phone can get email, it hasn’t taken over for more complex applications like Excel or PowerPoint. With a larger display, the tablet can better handle these types of apps than a smartphone, but lacking keyboard or mouse is restrictive, especially for iPads that don’t support these some of these accessories. The need for three devices is beginning to change. In the past year a couple of key occurrences have made it more likely that mobile users will only need two devices. Enterprise apps (OK, Microsoft Office) are now available across all tablet platforms and hardware capabilities rival those of notebooks. First, most enterprise apps are now available for tablets, without reducing functionality to the point that they are unusable. In fact, the user experience is often better than on older counterparts designed for notebooks. Second, 2-in-1 tablets, like Windows Surface Pro have gotten to the point where their speeds and feeds rival most enterprise standard notebooks (and beat Netbooks) hands-down. Even Apple feeling the pressure from Microsoft released a “pencil” on their new iPad Pro for better enterprise accuracy and a keyboard and mouse id not far behind.

Tablets and 2-in-1s will begin replacing notebooks at large companies as the new iPad Pro and Surface Pro 4 hit the market. This will grow to 10 percent penetration from less than 1 percent today in the next three years.

Action: Assess the opportunity to begin replacing notebooks/tablets for your mobile professionals and replace with the much sleeker, lighter and more efficient 2-in-1 tablet.

Prediction: The desk phone will disappear from 30 percent more desks this year.

The deskphone. It’s not something many people think much about since cell phones have taken over much of our communications—even for business. Unmetered cell phone plans have reduced the costs for companies to pay for cell phone calling. Even with BYOD, users mainly have unlimited calling (in the U.S. anyway) so don’t mind paying for it themselves. Still, the PBX market is around $8 billion a year globally according to Infonetics Research, even as Gartner predicts 2015 will see an almost 5% decline in enterprise telephony licensing and $1 billion decline in spending (source: Forecast: Enterprise Telephony Equipment, Worldwide, 2012-2019, 2Q15, June 2015). What’s making a bigger change is the softphone. Available on any device, and integrated into corporate systems like IM or calendar, the softphone like Skype from Microsoft or Jabber from Cisco is gaining hold. Though the infrastructure costs are still present, there is a reduction in monthly service costs and even better, millions of dollars in savings in hardware costs. Simple by removing the phone from the desk.  I visit a lot of different companies and see a lot of old digital phones on desks and conference rooms. Phones that haven’t been updated in years, and no one cares. We have seen the last replacement cycle of dedicated deskphones on desks at most enterprises.

The deskphone will continue to be replaced by the softphone and the cellphone as BYOD continues to grow and by 2017, 30 percent of large enterprises will no longer support a deskphone for all employees.

Action: Begin the replacement of dedicated deskphones and start using the softphone you might have already paid for anyway!