In the ever-evolving landscape of unified communications, there’s a notable shift happening – the rise of Fixed-Mobile Convergence (FMC) solutions. Metrigy’s recent Workplace Collaboration: 2023-24 study, conducted among 440 organisations, reveals that approximately 12% of companies, mostly small businesses, have already made the switch from traditional business calling platforms to allowing employees to use their personal mobile phones for calls.
While this approach offers flexibility, it comes with challenges. Companies lose control over phone numbers, face integration issues with mobile calls and customer relationship management apps, and struggle to enforce security and compliance controls. Recent SEC fines against financial services companies for non-compliant customer communications highlight the risks of this “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) strategy.
Surprisingly, a mere 5% of companies providing mobile UC apps witnessed employees using them for calling. Instead, mobile UC apps primarily served messaging and remote meeting needs. Clearly, there’s a gap between business communication tools (like business calling platforms) and employee preferences (their personal phones).
The demand for FMC is on the rise, with almost a quarter of the surveyed organisations planning to deploy FMC solutions this year. An additional 45.6% are considering FMC for future use.
Why Has Fixed-Mobile Convergence Failed in the Past?
Fixed-Mobile Convergence (FMC), defined as the integration of mobile phones and business calling platforms, has been around for some time. However, early adoption was limited due to complexities, high costs, carrier requirements, and a lack of enterprise interest. Some solutions merely involved simultaneous ringing of mobile phones when receiving calls on business lines, falling short of true convergence.
Other attempts focused on integrating mobile UC apps with native phone dialers, often leading to cumbersome processes with varying sound quality. None of these approaches seamlessly integrated with native messaging apps, further hindering their adoption.
The Next Generation of FMC has Arrived
In the last nine months, FMC solutions have evolved significantly. Leading options include:
1. Cisco Webex Go: Utilises an eSIM approach to configure Webex Calling on mobile phones, enabling calls through the native dialer while preserving the user’s personal identity.
2. Microsoft Teams Phone Mobile: Allows provisioning of corporate-liable mobile phones as single-identity Microsoft Teams Phone extensions, often in collaboration with select carriers.
3. Tango Extend: An eSIM solution for Microsoft Teams Phone, enabling carriers to provision Teams Phone and personal identities on mobile devices.
4. Dstny Converge: Offers an eSIM solution for any UCaaS provider or service provider to add FMC capabilities to their UC offerings.
Additionally, in the US, AT&T and Verizon have introduced their own FMC offerings with enhanced features like provisioning integration and unified voicemail.
FMC Challenges Remain
Despite advancements, some limitations persist, potentially inhibiting adoption:
1. Availability: FMC solutions remain limited, although partnerships between carriers and UCaaS providers continue to expand.
2. Cost: Costs vary, with some solutions requiring specific voice and data plans, while others add a fee for FMC services on top of existing plans.
3. Emergency Calling: 911 calls from FMC devices are handled by mobile carriers, but there may be limitations in providing precise location information as required by laws like Kari’s Law and RAY BAUMs Act.
4. Messaging: None of the solutions currently offer SMS integration, but this may change in 2023 and 2024 on a carrier-by-carrier basis.
True FMC solutions are becoming accessible from UC vendors and service providers, with user-friendly options available for Microsoft Teams Phone and Webex Calling. Given the growing interest in FMC, it’s wise for IT and business leaders to engage in discussions with their UCaaS and mobile providers to understand their roadmaps and plan for evaluation and deployment. Legal counsel should also be consulted to ensure compliance with emergency calling regulations.
Metrigy is a forward-thinking research and advisory firm focusing on workplace collaboration, digital transformation, and related technologies. They provide strategic guidance and data-backed insights for technology providers and enterprise organisations. For more information, visit Metrigy’s website https://www.nojitter.com/employee-experience/age-fixed-mobile-convergence-has-arrived
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