Atos UK & Ireland bids farewell to desk phones

The UK and Ireland arm of services consultancy Atos removes desktop telephones from its London HQ in favour of a Microsoft Lync unified comms system

The UK and Ireland arm of digital services consultancy Atos has thrown out its desktop telephone handsets for good, in the culmination of an ongoing change management programme intended to enhance staff productivity across the organisation.

It has already consigned email to the dustbin of history, and a satellite office it established in Reading in 2011 was built from the ground up with no telephones.

Atos’s latest move has seen it remove all desk phones from the 650 employees based at its main London office. As part of its so-called Global Voice Project, Atos has instead implemented internet-based IM, voice and video technology based on Microsoft’s unified communications suite Lync on its PCs and moved to mobile handsets.

It has also removed “spider” conferencing devices from its meeting rooms and replaced them with Lync-enabled devices.

The unified communications platform should make it easier for staff to be more productive when in the office, at home or on the move, said Atos UK and Ireland CIO Marc Mosthav.

Mosthav said Atos had already saved around £100,000 per annum from not having PBX systems at its Reading site, and hoped to squeeze more cost benefits

“I have found it quite liberating because I’m not bound to a box on my desk,” he said. 

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“Alexander Graham Bell will be turning in his grave at the thought of the death of the handset, but that’s the reality in the workplace today.

“We’re witnessing a real change in the way our people communicate, particularly as a result of social media and mobile communications,” said Mosthav.

As part of its change management plan, Atos previously introduced an internal social media suite – blueKiwi – to support group conversations, asset sharing and collaboration.

Mosthav said he has seen a number of changes in staff behaviour since deploying blueKiwi.

“BlueKiwi prompts discussion,” he said. “We have all stood around the water cooler complaining, but those conversations stayed at the water cooler. With social, we can move from just moaning, to letting us work on the problem.”

Future of Lync

With Microsoft Lync set to become Microsoft Skype for Business later in 2015, Mosthav told Computer Weekly there was “no doubt” that Atos would take up Skype in the future.

However, in a corporate environment, stability is critical, so Skype for Business will need to be rigorously vetted, he said.

“If it does go down because nobody tested it, we won’t be able to call anybody,” said Mosthav. “It is important that we keep moving forward, but to do so with stability.”

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