Sennheiser Expands UC Portfolio with PRESENCE
The company brings its high-quality wireless headsets to the contact center and UC market.
There is no doubt that mobile devices and IP telephony have been a boon for headset manufacturers. Years ago, their addressable market consisted of consumer audiophiles and contact center agents. Now every business professional is on a seemingly never-ending quest for the next best headset.
Last week Sennheiser announced new UC and mobile products designed to capitalize on this growing market. Scheduled for availability August 1, the PRESENCE Mobile Series is described as "premium headsets for Unified Communications and on-the-go business professionals."
While Sennheiser definitely has a reputation for high-quality audio headset solutions, it seemed to me that this renewed emphasis on UC was perhaps too little, too late? I posed this question to Bill Rice, the company's National Sales Manager for Strategic Alliances. Rice admitted that Sennheiser was "a little late to the party." He pointed out that he was at Jabra (now owned by GN Netcom) more than five years ago when they first started working with Microsoft on early iterations of what is now Lync.
Rice went on to insist, however, that it is not too late for the market--in fact, Sennheiser's timing might be just right. He correctly points out that the first few years of the UC market have been slow, and it is perhaps now, as enterprise and mid-market companies are moving from incubation to pilots to full-scale deployments, that the market will begin to really take off.
But will companies be willing to pay for high-quality headsets? Rice responds with an anecdote about walking into a customer location recently and being told that they were having problems with some of the company's headsets. Turns out the units in question had been in constant service in a contact center since 2005. The moral of the story was that companies understand the difference between Sennheiser and headsets that need to be replaced every year or so.
This discussion prompted me to ask Rice if wireless headsets were beginning to find their way into contact centers. I was surprised when his answer was that it's been "amazing to see the growth of wireless in the contact center." Rice provides another anecdote, describing a contact center manager who once said he wished he could Velcro the agents to their seats; but today's contact centers tend to require more collaboration--answers are not always right in front of you. Wireless certainly is intuitive in certain verticals, like health care, but Rice reported that a telecom company in the UK recently moved 1,500 agents to wireless headsets.
As a reasonably mobile professional, I have tried many of the Bluetooth headsets available on the market from the usual suspects. Over the past few days, I've been trialing the PRESENCE unit and can report that it gets high marks on several parameters. The sound quality for the user is exceptional, it seamlessly connects to two devices within seconds and it stays on my ear (behind long hair, wearing glasses) better than any other unit I've tried. My most interesting test call was to a family member several hundred miles away on a 5+ year-old flip mobile phone who said, "It sounds like you're in the next room." For now, it's my headset of choice.