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Say goodbye to desktop phones

John Cox | July 16, 2014
Insurer leverages VoIP client software, 11ac Wi-Fi for "complete mobility".

Call quality is excellent. "Through Lync, it's high definition voice," he says. "Our colleagues realized that very quickly. 'Oh my gosh, I thought you were sitting in the room next to me.'"

Despite all the documented benefits, for many users there was an unexpectedly strong emotional attachment to their desk phones. "User response was very mixed," Henderson says. "Quite a few really embraced the technology. But others really like that phone on their desk. One stumbling block was the Microsoft Lync client didn't flash a message light on their phone [for a new voicemail]. You'd be surprised at how many were upset by that, even though all their voicemail was now going to their email, and they could receive the complete message."

The collaborative work environment this whole infrastructure is supposed to encourage and sustain is a work in progress. Right now, it means that employees in two separate buildings, and some 600 telecommuters, can use Lync's video chat and online meeting features. With Lync's integrated approach to different modes of communication, collaboration becomes a corporate service available over wireless. An AFA employee's "office" is now wherever they happen to be. As users are switched to Lync, they get mandatory training in its features and capabilities.

Another mobile collaboration technology that's part of the "complete mobility" concept is Crestron's AirMedia, which combines an HDMI box that plugs into a projector or flat panel TV and the corporate network. Using a Web service and client applications for PCs, Macs, Android and iOS device, up to 32 users in a conference room and wirelessly share PowerPoint, Excel, Word and PDF documents, along with photos and screen shots. Up to 40 more users can log in via the Web. "I was passionate about that," Henderson says. "I didn't want our folks to have to worry about plugging into walls or HDMI ports. We use it to share spec sheets, presentations, videos. It's very robust."

Currently about 600 employees have shifted to mobile VoIP, including eight of the highest ranking executives. But so far AFA President Carpenter, the vocal advocate of wireless VoIP, is not yet one of them, mainly because he's still in the old building.

"He's still got a phone on his desk," Henderson says. "But we'll get to him eventually."


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