Virtual PBX Featured Article

Sennheiser VP Joins TMC to Talk 2018, 2019 & ITEXPO

January 25, 2019

By Maurice Nagle - Web Editor

Audio quality determines the value of interactions, it’s that simple. Whether we are talking about the meeting room down the hall or the contact center covering your organization’s customer service bases, audio quality is critical.

Next week marks the 20th iteration of ITEXPO, and Sennheiser is joining the fray showcasing its robust audio solutions in booth 234. In advance of the event, TMC had the opportunity to catch up with Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Sennheiser Enterprise Solutions Americas Jim Fairweather. Find the full interview below.

TMC: Please tell us a bit about the latest news at your company.

Jim Fairweather: There’s a lot that’s new for 2019 at Sennheiser Enterprise Solutions, starting with my appointment as vice president of sales and marketing. In addition, the Sennheiser Enterprise Solutions channel will be fully-owned by current co-parent company William Demant as of January 2020. This year will mark a transition that will involve new investments, additional resources, enhanced sales strategies, and increased reseller engagement. I’m excited to drive channel strategies for Sennheiser at this exciting juncture, and to oversee several forthcoming product enhancement announcements.

TMC: What pains are you taking away for customers?

JF: Sennheiser audio solutions address specific challenges in the modern workplace, especially within a unified communications environment. The objective is to leverage audio as a tool that businesses can use to improve their environments and facilitate greater productivity. For instance, the open office floorplans that are so prevalent now were designed to foster collaboration, yet they’re full of noise and distraction that impact the user’s focus and physical comfort level, adding challenges to the workplaces they were meant to support. Audio solutions can alleviate this pain point through adaptive noise cancellation, combined with high quality, multiple microphones incorporated into the headset. This empowers workers to both reduce ambient noise and maintain intelligibility for the listener, no matter what else is going on around them. We also address mobility trends through flexible, plug-and-play speakerphone systems that can create ad-hoc conference rooms for up to 20 people, anywhere with an internet connection.

TMC: How is cloud acceptance changing how your customers or company operates?

JF: The insurgence of cloud services have had a genuine effect the development of on our product features, and it has also improved the flexiblity of how those solutions can be managed. For example, the HeadSetup Pro Manager software-based solution lets IT directors administer a whole suite of Sennheiser audio devices via the cloud. But more so, the increase in hosted infrastructures and “anywhere access” to data through platforms like Microsoft Office 365 means the workforce has become much more mobile, conducting business from sites ranging from their living rooms, to subway stations, to trade show floors, to the middle of outdoor events. Premium audio has become more vital to these on-the-go workers, providing them with integrated directional microphones and features like our “WindSafe” technology for better sound transmission in challenging scenarios; adjustable noise cancellation to alleviate extraneous clamor; and long-wearing comfort and durability so the headsets can be sported for extended periods.

TMC: What are the most important recent communications technology innovations in your industry?

JF: Enhanced connectivity is a huge breakthrough for audio headset devices. The modern worker incorporates various devices into their day, from mobile phones, to PCs, tablets, and laptops. They switch between these devices profusely during any given work session. We developed a ground-breaking business headset, the SDW 5000, that accommodates connectivity to a range of devices so personnel can utilize the same headset no matter what device they’re on. This is especially relevant for Millennial talent that are ascending into higher positions in the business community, who are accustomed to seamless, all-day connectivity across various electronic platforms.

TMC: How is mobile changing your business strategy?

JF: Mobility plays a key role in our strategy. We offer a versatile line of high-end mobile and wireless headsets for a range of applications. Models like the PRESENCE offer an in-ear headset designed to go anywhere. And units such as the MB Pro Bluetooth series allow users to travel up to 80 feet from their source workstation, with up to 15 hours talk time between charges. This frees employees to collaborate more fluidly, and to gather research or confer with nearby colleagues, all while continuing an existing call.

TMC: What is your perception of AI and The Future of Work, and how new tech is changing the face of communications?

JF: We’re all about the Future of the Workplace. Sophisticated audio solutions are one of the categories positioned to drive the office of the future, facilitating trends like hot-swapping of desks, BYOB, and “huddle rooms” that are literally transforming work areas. We’ve introduced flexible, wireless technologies with features that make it easier to be productive in environments that are constantly subject to change, with richly featured headsets that give control of one’s personal audio environment back to the individual worker. For instance, the MB 660 allows the users to adjust the level of noise cancellation throughout the day via simple controls on the side of the earcup, or just as easily through a proprietary phone app. And the SP 200 speakerphone units, which are about the size of a hockey puck, can be deployed anywhere, turning a “huddle” area into a multi-user conference room in minutes.

TMC: What is the greatest opportunity facing your industry? 

JF: As the workforce continues to become more complex, we foresee more opportunities to assist those workers through audio technology, giving them greater capabilities to help accomplish their goals. For instance, the concept of wellness in the workplace is a great opportunity to leverage high performance solutions that support the well-being of office personnel in physically stressful, noisy environments, giving them comfortable, functional audio solutions that help them focus on their tasks.

TMC: What is the greatest challenge?

JF: As in many areas of IT, security is a notable challenge. The typical office worker doesn’t think about how vulnerable their Bluetooth devices can be to hackers, who can infiltrate signals from audio equipment. This is an area where premium audio has major advantages over lower-shelf devices. For example, we incorporated 128bit authentication keys and DECT security certification into the SDW 5000. This meets the highest industry standards, making the headset appropriate for even sensitive vertical markets such as financial services and healthcare.

TMC: What do you hope to achieve at the event? Why should people come to ITEXPO to meet with your company?

JF: One of our best sales strategies has always been to get a user to demo our headsets first-hand and experience the difference made by superior audio quality. The advanced engineering and the materials used to create our long-wearing headsets become obvious the moment someone puts the device over their ears. In addition, we look forward to sparking conversation about how audio can no longer be treated as an add-on to the network. A headset can be a strategic instrument that enhances a company’s investment in a sophisticated UC network, creating a more satisfying engagement experience for their workers, customers, and business partners.

TMC: Please make an interesting prediction about tech in 2019?

JF: Although AI and IVR automation will continue to bring efficiencies, voice technology has bucked all predictions of its decline. Intelligible, reliable audio and personal, human responses will never become passé. A recent report from Contact Center World revealed that “despite the hype surrounding self-service technology, 64% of organizations believe customers should have easy access to a live agent.” Our solutions are the conduit to that coveted live agent engagement. We make that crucial last-mile of the communications experience as outstanding as possible.

Edited by Maurice Nagle



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