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The Right Audio Endpoints for UC: A Balance of Business Requirements and Personal Preferences

Posted by Kevin Gulley

May 8, 2015

Just like many of you, my method of communicating with colleagues and customers has changed dramatically over the last several years.  The deskphone, long my lifeline to the world, sits unused in a closet  Instead, rapidfire audio and visual communications on Skype for Business, Join.me, Lync, GoToMeeting, Jabber and Google Hangouts take place primarily with me wearing my professional headset, working hands-free to maximize productivity during the call.  choosing_right_business_headsetI also have a personal USB / Bluetooth speaker phone, which I love using not only on calls when colleagues are in the office with me, but also to keep Radio Margaritaville playing quietly in the background while I work.  When I am on the move, I use my wireless headset that allows me to connect to desktop calls via bluetooth, but easily switch the call to my mobile phone so that I can hop in the car to make it to my next meeting without having to drop off.  

To be honest, many of the decisions that led to this array of audio endpoints came about in an ad hoc manner based on the need to increase productivity as well as my own personal preferences.  That haphazard method is not the best approach for most businesses, according to Bill Orlansky, the Director of Strategic Alliance Marketing for Jabra.  “As the nature of work continues to evolve and more businesses deploy unified communications solutions, leading companies are putting a framework around the types of audio endpoints they believe will maximize productivity and effectiveness for the various locations and types of users in their enterprise.”  

Segmenting Users By Business Role and Work Spaces Leads to Targeted Audio Endpoint Options

According to Orlansky, there are three primary criteria businesses should take into consideration when defining the range of endpoint choices for employees - Type of worker, location and personal preference.  Here are some examples of different types of employees and how their role and workspace can influence endpoint requirements.

Related:  Making the Wireless Headset Decision:  DECT vs Bluetooth

Desk Centric Employees

  • Office Based Workers - These are non-mobile employees that perform highly focused individual work, with some team interaction.  They spend most of their time at a desk in an office or home office environment and need to be hands-free to maximize productivity

  • Customer Service - Non-mobile employees, they work frequently on the phone with remote customers.  These employees spend nearly all their time at their desk.  Noise cancelling and the ability to easily connect to phones or PC’s are key considerations.

Campus Centric

  • Specialists  - These employees work mostly at a desk, but move around the office for meetings and occasionally work from home.  They are looking for comfort, extended talk time and exceptional audio quality

  • Manager - These employees travel occasionally and when in the office spend around a third of the time away from their desk.  Hands free calling, multi-connection capability  and the ability to adapt to office and mobile use are key

Mobile Centric

  • Executive - They travel often between various company and customer offices and when they are at the office spend most of their time away from the desk.  Wireless mobility and dual connection to PC and phone are important

  • Field Employee - These are teleworkers, road warriors or employees that spend the majority of their time away from a corporate office.  They need to be able to work effectively from anywhere and need noise cancellation tech and wireless mobility capability

By breaking down the physical locations where communication and collaboration happens into buckets like these, and layering in the type of workers inside the company, businesses can begin to define all necessary UC endpoints.  But, there is one more thing.

Don’t Forget Personal Preference  

According to Orlansky, businesses shouldn’t go too far in mandating only certain types of audio endpoints based on the above criteria. “At the end of the day, the device makes the experience for a user of UC and you want employees to be comfortable with the device they use...sometimes for hours a day,” says Orlansky.  “For example, some of my colleagues prefer a small wireless earpiece even when on a video conference at their desk, while I prefer my comfortable, stereo (two speaker) wired headset, or if I am in a closed office, my USB speakerphone.”  


Providing guidelines while maintaining flexibility is the key for businesses, especially since headsets and effective audio endpoints have such a significant impact on UC adoption.   “Businesses should allow some wiggle room in terms of the actual device so their employees are happy.  A noise cancelling wireless headset may make great sense for a certain type of user and location, but is it an over ear, headband,  or in ear device?”  Based on the type of user, their priorities can range from comfort, to design aesthetic, to noise cancellation.

In today emerging open office environment active noise cancelling headsets with enterprise grade noise cancelling microphones not only allow the employees to create a “concentration zone” in noisy environments, but also ensure that when they are on a call they can clearly hear and be heard by their colleagues and customers.

 

Answering these questions can mean the difference between a highly successful UC deployment and a disappointment.  “60% of companies expect ROI on their UC deployment in one year, while only 10% achieve it,” according to Orlansky.  With the recent report from Frost & Sullivan highlighting how significantly the right audio endpoints can improve those chances, it makes good business sense to look at users, spaces and preferences.

Topics: Voice, collaboration, Mobility, Unified Communications,, Best Practices, Headsets,