Keeping Your Mobile Work Force in Touch

» Posted by on Feb 28, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Although it can be useful for employees to use mobile phones for work, it can also cause a lot of inconvenience and expense. Business cards need two numbers. Customers don’t know which number to call, so they tend to call the cell number because they can be assured that they will reach your employee where ever they may be; even if they are sitting at their desk.

There are additional cell phone bills that can get out of control and grow to be your biggest monthly expenditure. Outbound calls from cellular number lines don’t display the corporate name. The cost of long distance from mobile phones is expensive. The user now has two mail boxes to check, and wants access to their e-mails while away from the office. If you allow your staff to use their own cell phone – they will take their customers with them if they leave your company for the competition.

A number of IP phone manufacturers offer a variety of ways to integrate your smart phone with your office phone system. These solutions can range from being simple and cheap to offering very advanced integration for a considerable investment.

So before you look for a solution, you should establish some criteria of what kind of integration would work best in your company. Keep in mind what you want to accomplish: features that facilitate your mobile worker’s jobs and/or keep them in touch with your office. Then discuss with the various vendors what their system can do and match the right vendor to your particular applications.

Five Essential Features of IP Office Phone Systems

There are five essential features that most IP office phone systems can offer:

  1. Forwarding of incoming calls to cell phones: this feature alleviates the need for callers to choose from multiple numbers to find an employee. Inbound calls to the desk set are routed directly to the cell phone. Most IP office phone systems today offer some form of find me/follow me and maybe managed by an easy to use GUI interface. Incoming calls maybe routed to ring desk, mobile, and home phones simultaneously or in order.Calls may be routed based on time of day. User may have the ability to transfer calls between their cell and their desk set with a simple key press. User can also define, based on caller line ID to forward calls to their cell or to voice mail.
  2. Making outbound mobile calls through the office phone system: Calling through the company phone switch provides the company with substantial cost savings on long distance. A lot of cell phone plans only charge for outgoing calls with free inbound calls. Putting the calls thru the company phone switch can eliminate these charges thus realizing additional savings for the company. Additionally, the called party sees the company’s caller ID instead of the cell phone number.
  3. Making your smart phone an extension of your IP office phone system: having handset software opens up all sorts of other possibilities as well. This soft ware provides a graphical interface to some of the most powerful features of office phone systems; such as visual voice mail, displaying on the phone’s LCD screen a list of messages that the user can listen to in any order desired. Integration with the office phone system allows users to have just one phone number and voice mail box for all their calls. It also lets them dial others in the company by extension number and transfer calls to the office from their smart phones.
  4. “Presence”: Just as one is able to determine if a staff is on the phone in the office, this software will enable callers to “see” if the mobile user is able to take a call or not. This capability is made possible with s/w that provides instant messaging functions, which let employees see who is online and available to chat on an IM service. That same information such as “available” or “in a meeting” will indicate whether the mobile user is in a position to take a call.
  5. “Campus” wifi integration: Today’s smart phones are dual mode cell & wifi. With an interface on your office phone system, and a resident wifi system in place, calls coming into your office phone system can be directed to your smart phone over your local wifi network. When you leave the office or campus area, you’re smart phone will seamlessly switch over to the cell phone network. This can be a very worthwhile investment that can diminish your cell phone bill by as much as a half.

It is also possible to roam through public hotspots via VPN’s securely connecting the handset to your office phone system.

The first step is to look at how your employees use their smart phones to facilitate their business. Determine which applications would benefit them the most and what the ROI is, if this can be measured. If you are looking at the wifi integration, then estimate what your cost savings would be on your cell phone bill. Often this will justify your investment and provide a compelling ROI.

Stephen Leber

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