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Interview with Dan Hoffman: Surfing the Mobility Wave

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Lately, there’s been a lot of focus on how business interactions will evolve as technology makes communication more and more mobile. People want to be able to work from anywhere they happen to be in the world, be it homes, parks, or coffee shops. Recently, Matt and I sat down with Dan Hoffman, our CEO, to hear his thoughts on the future of the office phone system.

“There is a drive for people to work from wherever, whenever,” Hoffman says. “We are fighting a losing battle to tie people to a desk.” For decades, offices have been the fundamental core of business activity, the one place where company work can get done. But technology is undoubtedly changing that.

“Companies are still all about coordinating people. The role of the phone system must be reinvented. This is what we’re trying to do. Instead of being a simple switchboard system, we’re trying to create a comprehensive system you can access from anywhere.” Here at M5, we’re trying to construct a system that a variety of devices can be a part of and can be seamlessly switched between. Case in point – the iPad app we currently have in beta can effortlessly transfer a conversation to a desk phone unit, and vice versa.

The desk phone remains a major part of that communication network. “At a desk, the desk phone will still be your first choice for conversation, no matter what you’re other options are. It simply provides the best experience.” Even with the advances in softphones and mobile technology, the desk phone will continue to be the simplest, highest quality, most reliable way to make a phone call, because it is the only tool uniquely dedicated to the task. “If you’re a candidate for a job interview, you don’t want to use a cell phone to talk with your prospective employers, you’re going to want to go with a desk phone,” says Hoffman. “Same if you’re a salesperson making an important call. We see desk phones remaining in the future- they'll just be one part of the mix.”

Here at M5, “we want to surf the mobility wave.” But it brings opportunities as well as challenges. It is not easy to coordinate business when everyone is all over the place. “The phone system needs to grow and change along with the workforce that's using it.”