Voice is a fundamental requirement for Lync – devices enable UC to truly harness the power of voice. In essence, the device defines the Lync experience – built upon an infrastructure comprising a number of approved products from a vendor eco-system. However, the wide range of devices available can create confusion and complexity when deciding which solution(s) to roll out. In a Lync deployment, the UC functionality is typically enabled either by the soft client in conjunction with a headset and/or USB phone, or by an IP desk phone which is Lync Optimised or Qualified.
So, which is the best option – a Lync desk phone or a Lync headset? The following considerations will help you make the right decision:
A mid-range Lync Optimised headset can be up to 70% cheaper than a desk phone. Therefore, limiting the number of desk phones can reduce the total Lync deployment cost. However, it’s also important to take into account the average life-span of the device. Headsets generally need replacing more frequently than desk phones, so the initial cost saving gained from deploying headsets could be lost. It’s also worth considering the detrimental impact on productivity and customer service that may result from having to replace headsets more often than desk phones.
An IP desk phone has no reliance on the PC as Lync functionality is driven by the phone firmware. Headsets or USB desk phones depend on the Lync software client for UC functionality. Therefore, if the PC crashes or reboots during a call and a headset or USB phones is being used, the call will be dropped. However, if an IP desk phone is being used then the call will continue uninterrupted as it has no reliance on the PC.
In general, people are familiar with using a desk phone for telephony, especially if migrating from a traditional PBX. There may even be perception that a Lync soft client could ‘interfere’ with desktop applications and be counter-productive, therefore favouring a desk phone. Choosing the most suitable device, first time, is a critical success factor when deploying Lync because the wrong type of device has a significant detrimental impact on productivity, customer service as well as a negative perception of the overall Lync solution. Discussing device selection at the initial planning stage of a Lync roll-out is critical – creating pilot groups profiled around different worker types is now considered ‘best practice’ to ensure appropriate devices are selected which best fit the group’s needs. When workers become familiar with using headsets (in conjunction with the Lync client or via a desk phone), there is a high likelihood that greater benefits can be achieved by adopting a headset device.
Arguably, the greatest influence on device choice is the profile that best fits the worker. Examples of typical worker profiles:
- Desk based workers would benefit from either a headset or desk phone
- Desk based workers who need to roam the office need a wireless headset. However, Lync functionality could still be delivered via an IP desk phone if resiliency was required
- Flexible and mobile workers would benefit from the freedom of a Bluetooth enabled headsets
- Home workers would benefit from either a headset or USB phone (possibly a combination of both)
In summary, it is important to view devices as an integral element of Lync and not an ‘after thought’. The device of choice should always be defined by the workers profile: where and how they work. If the device does not fit the needs of the worker then the undoubted benefits of Lync will not be realised. In fact, selecting the wrong device could quite easily lead to productivity challenges, resulting in the mistaken idea that Lync is not a high-quality UC business solution.