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The challenge of Fixed Mobile Convergence

A recent Wall Street Journal report highlighted that millennials and younger people in the workforce don’t relate to the traditional desk phone concept, simply because this is a generation driven by ‘mobile first’. It’s a narrative that’s supported by independent research, with only 24% of businesses deploying an available app to employee phones, and less than 6% of employees using them to make outbound calls according to a paper published by Nemertes Research in July 2020.
This isn’t simply a case of poorly performing UC apps, and is a trend that needs to be acknowledged and addressed by UC vendors, enabling them to effectively support their customer deployments.

Aligning to employee habits

The challenge to making this a success is less about providing the applications that employees need, and more about deploying a solution that aligns to their habits or working practices.
Much like the findings in the aforementioned reports, what we’ve found in the market is that in many cases, especially with younger employees in the workforce, there is a natural tendency to ignore company deployed UC apps on smartphones. Often this is not due to apps that are unreliable or offer a poor user experience, and is simply down to employee habit – most notably, the habit of using a native dialler rather than a separate application to make calls.
While an employee may be happy to use an app on their smartphone to initiate a text chat, video call, or to set a presence status, by nature they will often default to that native dialler when making a call. So ultimately you should let them do so, on the basis you can deploy your hosted PBX to the native dialler, thereby effectively turning your mobile SIM cards into extensions.
This approach will deliver the desired outcome in finding a technical resolution that gives the employee what they want (aligns to their way of working), while adhering to any internal compliance or security requirements the company subscribes to – the best of both worlds.

Making mobile compliant

It’s the compliance angle that is one of the most compelling here, especially within financially regulated businesses. For any organisation that records calls on employee desk phones under compliance regulations such as MiFID II, also arguably has the same obligation for any company deployed mobile phones.
The market is awash with solutions where regulated employees need to ensure they use the app when making a call from their mobile device. Arguably this isn’t complaint, because the employee is being given the opportunity to circumvent the solution – use the app for a call that needs to be recorded or just use the native dialler to bypass it. These solutions are open to abuse and expose the business to compliance threats.
By implementing your mobile numbers as part of your hosted telephony platform you leverage any call recording solution you’ve invested in, because all the voice traffic will route through your hosted PBX. No applications, no opportunity to bypass the solution, no support headaches, and no change to user behaviour.

Centralising telephony procurement

Another important benefit of fixed-mobile convergence is that it centralises not just the technical elements of your telephony deployment, but the procurement of it. By treating your mobile numbers as extensions on your PBX, and routing traffic as such, you benefit from a single tariff and inclusive minutes bundle, whether you’re making a call from your mobile phone, desk phone, or soft phone. This also carries a huge number of benefits in term of costs for roaming users.

Supporting hybrid working

We cannot ignore the changes to working practices over the last twelve months, with increasing numbers of employees working from home. Extending the company PBX to mobile is a core part on delivering what employees need, because many workers still prefer a physical ‘handset’ over a headset plugged into their laptop. However, employees who don’t have a dedicated home office space are unlikely to want a desk phone in their living room. By adding a mobile device as an available endpoint without the need to install apps or change behaviour is an effective way to enabling the remote workforce.

The benefits of upgraded PBX systems

By extending your hosted PBX to employees mobile phones, you can adopt a mobile-first strategy that aligns to the habits of employees, giving them the endpoints they will use to make the most of your telephony investment, and ensure adherence to any compliance practices within your business.
The key to delivering solutions with the greatest probability for user adoption is to blend what you deliver to mobile devices – for some that will be applications, but for others it will be a more native mobile experience.
But however you enable your users, by deploying your mobile SIMs as extensions on your PBX you maintain control, regulation and compliance.