Finding a provider of parts and refurbished Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) phones in 2020 is next to impossible. Many SMB and enterprise organizations have held on to these devices for decades due to their reliability, simple usability, and investment in supporting infrastructure.
But with phone system providers shifting away from these legacy solutions, ending support, parts manufacturing, and choosing to focus more on the mobile app space – customers are finding it increasingly difficult to extend the lives of their DECT phones.
We’ve put together a list of the most critical items to focus on when migrating away from these legacy feature phones to make sure it’s a successful transition:
1. Find the right replacement device
One of the first things you need to ask yourself is what is the right device for your deployment? There is a vast landscape of devices capable of replacing DECT phones, from more affordable Android-based smartphones, to rugged handheld computers and scanning devices. Some are easier to integrate with your phone system or VoIP platform than others. Others are simply not robust enough and will likely require Otterbox or other heavy-duty cases – but these can impact wireless reception and voice quality in environments like hospitals. Take some time to research devices that have been successful in building a reputation in your industry.
2. Figure out what kind of learning curve or feature jump your users are comfortable with
DECT phones have been around for decades and their feature breadth and technology has remained relatively consistent. Are your users going to be comfortable with the latest unified communications app on a smartphone, loaded with new features, a new UI, and a new way of doing things? Or do you want to preserve the ‘phone-centric’ experience and offer a simpler transition? A lot of voice apps come loaded with chat, video, collaboration and more features which some organizations find clutters the app and creates distractions. A customizable client allows you to control features and UI elements you include in your app and disable those that might not be relevant to your users – increasing their productivity and helping to bridge the learning gap and ensure positive adoption.
3. Make sure your network is ready to handle new devices
When you first deployed your DECT phones, you likely ran cables and signal repeaters to make sure you had docking stations and signal where necessary. Docking stations are now a thing of the past, and the only signal you need to worry about is your Wi-Fi. Often times hospitals, warehouses and other buildings do not have a strong enough Wi-Fi signal to support new devices and these dead zones aren’t discovered until way after users start using their new devices. A thorough site walkthrough to test signal and identify weak zones is an absolute must. A solution that can report on call quality, latency, and other QoS stats will also help you manage things on an ongoing basis and pinpoint issues before your users uncover them.
4. Assess how straightforward it will be to integrate with your current phone system, and whether there are potential hidden costs
As PBX manufacturers have shifted their focus from DECT phones to mobile apps, they’ve designed these new apps to be compatible with the latest systems and hosted platforms, in an effort to encourage customers to replace their phone systems. This has led to many customers believing the only way to extend phone system functionality to new handheld devices is by replacing their phone systems. Costs associated with this can outweigh that of a new fleet of handheld devices, derailing projects and putting pressure on budgets. Considering a third-party application for these devices often means you can keep your existing PBX infrastructure without compromising on features or service quality, while also having the flexibility of using any PBX or hosted provider for the backend.
5. Stagger new features to avoid overwhelming users
We’ve mentioned that with new devices and mobile clients comes a wide variety of new features and capabilities – but what place do they have in your workflow, and how do you introduce them in ways that ensure they are properly used? All too often when too much new technology is introduced to a group of users all at once, it hinders adoption. Users become overwhelmed and don’t use the devices/features as intended. A good way to safeguard against this is to gradually push out new features over time. Many deployments start with a simple voice-only experience that essentially mirrors the capabilities they had originally on the DECT phones, but with the addition of some basic calling enhancements. Then, as users become comfortable with their new devices, you can layer on chat, video conferencing, and other features at a pace that fits your deployment. A centrally managed solution, like Bria Enterprise, allows you to remotely enable/disable features in the client and monitor adoption of features to make sure things are going according to plan.
We have been working with OEM’s, service providers, and enterprise customers for the last decade to help navigate the changing landscape of mobile devices and integrate the right communications solution for their devices.
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