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Shell to Eliminate Desktop Phones

April 14, 2009

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

Royal Dutch/Shell Group might not represent the wave of the future for all large enterprises, but would be instructive if Royal Dutch/Shell is followed by other enterprises.

Royal Dutch/Shell is equipping 150,000 desktops with Microsoft (News – Alert) Office Communicator as the unified communications client, with Office Communications Server 2007 (OCS) hosts in its three global data centers in Amsterdam, Houston, and Kuala Lumpur, says Forrester Research (News – Alert) analyst Phil Sayer. 

Under the new plan, voice will be treated like any other application. For most sites, all voice capability is delivered over the WAN. All Shell applications are implemented centrally, so sites must have resilient WAN access. If the site’s WAN connection is down, the staff cannot work, so there’s no need for local voice access. For emergencies, employees have mobile phones.

Soft phones will be the default. Shell plans to remove the majority of desk phones over time, starting with staff who travel regularly. Shell will implement UC on smart phones for occasional users and on laptops with soft phones for road warriors.

UC video use is expected to be “massive,” but with only limited use of telepresence. Shell plans to have only 10 telepresence locations globally but plans to put UC video capability on every desktop and Microsoft’s RoundTable videoconferencing device in every meeting room.

Federation of presence is key. Shell has a high percentage of contract workers and works with partners on many collaborative projects. Shell sees UCC as not being limited to Shell employees, rather will be extended to all contractors, suppliers, and partners.

Shell has many global virtual teams for which collaboration and information sharing are absolutely essential, and the business case for UC tends to be easiest to justify in large, trans-national corporations.

For many observers, the most prominent change is the elimination of desktop phones, with soft phones being the standard desktop voice tool.

Gary Kim (News – Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard


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