Did You Know…? Your Telephone Is More than Just a Dial Tone

The only constant in business is change, and in today’s workplace, organizations have to adapt. One such change is the increased mobility of the workforce. It is one of the fastest growing trends today, and companies must find ways for employees to maintain a high level of “connection” with the corporation when not in a typical office environment. Although technology-enabled tools such as cell phones, BlackBerries and mobile laptops have been the traditional tools of the mobile road warrior, new Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)-based phone systems offer features never before available in a technology once just used to provide simple dial tone.

Enterprise-class mobility is the ability to make all your communications tools available to employees regardless of their location or communications device, as if they were sitting at their office desk. A key component of enterprise-class mobility is the emergence of a new technology called Unified Communications: the concept that the most common methods of communication (phone, fax, e-mail, etc.) should be managed and accessed through a single infrastructure. With Unified Communications, historically separate communications methods can be accessed through a single interface—your voice through a telephone.

Today’s Internet-enabled phone systems with Unified Communications capability offer the following features:

  • Integrated text-to-speech technology so you can hear e-mails read to you over the phone (so they can be accessed anywhere); use spoken e-mail commands, such as reply, reply all, send, forward, etc.; and even call the sender of the e-mail (handy when you’re listening to e-mail in the car). This is also referred to as “hands-free e-mail.”
  • Global corporate directories that allow you to easily manage contact, calendar and tasks from any location, any communications device (phone, computer, etc.) and one central database. It also enables “click-to-call capability,” providing the ability to conference with anyone from your corporate directory quickly and easily from a cell phone, desk phone or desktop computer.
  • Single-number accessibility for users, regardless of their location. Your desk phone and cell phone operate as one.
  • Presence capability that provides notification on the status of “watched” users. When you are on the phone or desktop computer, dynamic presence shows you as being available, making it easy for your colleagues to find you.
  • Collaborative applications such as instant messaging, Web collaboration, file sharing, shared whiteboard and Web pushing. These applications help people work together anytime, anywhere.

While the telephone system’s primary function will continue to be voice communications, the combination of new VoIP-based phone systems, desktop computer software and Unified Communications technology has the potential to revolutionize the mobile workplace and help employees stay connected globally.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
George Slogik Meet the Author
George Slogik is a member of GAWDA’s Management Information Committee and senior manager, technical services, for The Lincoln Electric Company.