“Heat Mapping” Noisy Offices Is Reality with New Digital Headsets

The humble headset is undergoing a radical transformation – from mere communications device to powerful source of data with the potential to transform the workplace.

Several months ago, we discussed the concept called heat mapping. The idea is to observe where employees typically congregate to determine whether the physical work environment is organized as efficiently as possible – and reconfigure the space if it isn’t.

Heat mapping is important because, ever since the walls came down and the office spaces opened up, organizations have struggled to make the workplace a productive environment.

They’ve tried everything – sound-absorbing materials, dedicated quiet areas, codes of conduct, even lots of leafy foliage. Despite their efforts, the open office space remains the place employees love to hate.

Help may finally be on the way – and from a relatively unlikely source: Headsets.

That’s right. Headsets. And I’m not just referring to noise-canceling features that erase the din of chatty coworkers and overworked printers. No, I’m talking about powerful intelligence that organizations can use to create a more productive, efficient and quiet work environment.

The Latest Digital Smart Device

Beneath their utilitarian exteriors, new-generation headsets are in fact digital smart devices, packed with sophisticated digitalization that enable them to capture a treasure trove of previously untapped data such as background sound levels.

With the growing pace with which phone conversations and virtual meetings are getting digitalized by UC solutions like Skype and Skype for Business, headsets have become powerful tools in the modern workplace. Their advanced microphone technology makes them the perfect instruments to gather data about the office sound-environment – far better than smartphones, in fact.

All this makes headsets the perfect weapon for taking on the two biggest time-wasters and frustrations in call-intensive environments – too much noise and too many interruptions, each of which was cited by 25 percent of workers as the top office-related gripe among workers in contact-centric workplaces.

Headsets enable us to take heat mapping to an entirely new level of precision. Rather than merely observing the office environment, we can use these devices to gather unbiased data about the workplace and, perhaps most important, capture detailed information about the intensity of background noises. And instead of striving to get rid of noise in the office (which is virtually impossible), we can gather and analyze data from each headset to construct a detailed map of noise hotspots and reconfigure the workspace to relocate those noisy areas or employees elsewhere.

A “Can’t Miss” Developer Opportunity

For businesses, headsets offer a golden opportunity to convert ordinary data into powerful insights – and then act on it to create a better work environment and deliver higher-quality customer service. Achieving this goal, however, requires developers to come in and help convert the data into new insights. Without this, the data remain just that: datapoints that serve nobody.

The opportunity is somewhat reminiscent of when smartphones burst onto the scene a decade ago. Knowing a great thing when they saw it, developers almost immediately began writing all kinds of cool, useful (and, yes, some not-so-useful) apps to broaden their appeal and harness the power within these devices. The results are evident today in the millions of news, weather, sports, shopping, travel and countless other apps packed into our smartphones.

If even a small fraction of developer community were to embrace the opportunity today’s digital headsets represent, organizations and workers stand to benefit tremendously. (So permit me to extend an offer: If you’re a developer who is interested in exploring the outstanding opportunity digital headsets represent, we’d welcome your input. Just head over to our developer forum and let’s get started!)

We can’t fully escape the noise and distractions inherent in today’s open office spaces. But the combination of digital headsets and some savvy developers looking for the next big opportunity offer the promise of at least some peace and quiet for today’s workers and organizations.

Extreme Sound that Takes You Inside the Action

Extreme sports are all about in-your-face action, and nothing takes us closer to it than sound. With a new partnership between Jabra and Red Bull you’ll experience the intensity and emotion of extreme sports like never before.

Close your eyes and just imagine…

Sitting atop the engine of a Formula One race car as it screams past 9,000 RPMs…. The bone-rattling crunch of two football players colliding at full speed…. The explosion of spray as a massive wave crashes over a surfer’s head….

When it comes to extreme sports, the centre of the action is the place to be. And nothing propels us off the couch and directly into the middle of the experience like a crisp

backdrop of sounds. Without audio, we’re just casual observers. But with the volume turned up, we become physically and emotionally immersed in the action.

The power of sound to take us places we’ve never been (and, frankly, probably wouldn’t venture to in our right minds!) has much to do with the evolution of our species.

Loud sounds cause the human sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems to kick into overdrive, dramatically and instantly putting us in a state of alert. In this fight-or-flight mode, pupils dilate, heartbeat picks up and breathing increases – all preparing us to confront, or avoid, the danger our body is sensing.

We experience similar physical responses when we hear the sounds associated with extreme events. It’s why we hold our breath when we hear the roaring sound of a Formula 1 racer at full throttle, all six cylinders hammering, as it tries to overtake on the straights. And why we get goosebumps when we hear the spine-chilling “duunnn dunnn… duunnn duun… duuunnnnnnnn dun dun dun dun dun” from the movie “Jaws.”

Jabra and Red Bull: Taking You to the Centre and Beyond

Perhaps no organisation has done a more amazing job of putting spectators at the centre of the action than Red Bull. Its brand is virtually synonymous with extreme sports – hair-raising adventures ranging from Formula One and air racing to extreme cliff diving, windsurfing, mountain biking, motocross and, of course, Felix Baumgartner plummeting to earth from the stratosphere in 2012. Its YouTube channel boasts an incredible 7.6 million subscribers, and its subsidiary, Red Bull Media House, produces tons of content focused on sports, lifestyle and people.

So, imagine the delight of everyone here at Jabra when Red Bull Media House approached us with a special request. They were keen to get their hands on the world’s most extreme microphone – one that could separate out massive amounts of wind noise, leaving us spectators to experience only the raw emotion and intensity of adventurers wingsuit-flying through the atmosphere or extreme skiing down a 4,000 meter peak.

In other words, a microphone that puts everyone front and centre to the action.

Only one problem: A wireless microphone like that didn’t exist. Engineering of this magnitude had never been done before, and I wasn’t even sure it was possible. Yes, our Jabra Elite Sport wireless earbuds and Jabra Evolve 80 headsets are engineering marvels, delivering outstanding sound and call clarity in harsh personal-training and corporate environments, respectively. But a microphone that could precisely capture, say, the innermost emotions of a driver and sounds of a Formula One car hurtling 300 km/hour in front of 200,000 full-throated spectators? It wouldn’t be easy.

But our engineering department was not fazed in the slightest. And sure enough, they rose to the challenge. For two years, including plenty of long nights and weekends, they worked closely with Red Bull. It is a partnership that makes plenty of sense, with Red Bull and Jabra sharing a common understanding of how powerful the sound experience is.

Through countless design tweaks and dozens of prototypes, the engineering team perfected a digital signal processing (DSP) algorithm and circuitry that processes audio with amazing clarity before sending it wirelessly to an audio device.

The result is the Jabra X Mic, an intense, one-of-a-kind microphone that is truly “engineered for the extreme.” Listen for yourself – as it recently proved itself on the Red Bull Ring race track in Spielberg in Austria.

And stay tuned: With the Jabra X Mic, Jabra and Red Bull will soon take you inside the action like never before.

To these people your video call means the world

The impact of face-to-face conversation with our elderly, whether it is in-person or via video, is unbelievable. And with today’s technology there is no excuse, but one thing makes the difference: quality. Here are the three things you need to focus on.

Your friends are perennial pocket pals. They’re in there now! Feel them? Sue sent a selfie. Buzz. Tony texted you. Da-ding. Fiona’s on Facetime. Ring-ring. Go look!

In our crazy connected world, seniors have missed out. 25% live alone. 40% feel lonely. Of those in aged care, 40% are visited once a month or less and 52% suffer from at least one symptom of depression. Studies link social isolation and loneliness to functional decline, poor sleep, blood pressure, depression, dementia and morbidity. As a health risk, social isolation is worse than smoking! Why do we neglect our ageing parents? Continue reading

Can Voice Analytics Stem the Customer-Satisfaction Skid?

Big data, in the form of speech analytics, is revolutionizing the way customer service is delivered. Can it jump-start stagnant customer satisfaction levels as well?

I’ll admit it. As predictions go, mine wasn’t as bold as the ones that foresaw flying cars, the end of the world or even that spam (the digital variety) would soon be eradicated from the earth.

But unlike those not-so-prescient prognostications, my prediction actually came true.

Several years ago I forecast that corporate contact centers would soon dive headlong into “big data” to provide a better, more personalized customer service experience. Continue reading

Enhanced Jabra, Unify Square Partnership to Ignite UC User Adoption

Available now, parts of Jabra’s Xpress asset management system functionality has been incorporated into Unify Square’s PowerSuite solution – and more will follow. This will enable IT departments to more easily monitor and manage all Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams assets and drive greater user adoption of Unified Communications.

When it comes to job responsibilities, perhaps no one in the organization wears more hats than today’s IT administrator: Technical wizard, futurist, data-security guru, coach, counselor – and, increasingly, firefighter.

In fact, perhaps the biggest frustration among IT professionals is too much time spent troubleshooting problems – and not enough time driving critical initiatives like Unified Communications. Continue reading

What Most Companies Forget When Fighting off Cyber attacks

The next battle in the ongoing war for security will be focused on devices which, thanks to the Internet of Things, are proliferating at an astonishing rate. But there’s one device that sits on almost every (physical) desktop – one that we rarely think of as a security threat: the humble telephone.

Never underestimate the ingenuity and effort that burglars will put into their work. If a team of committed criminals knows that there are untold of riches lying in a bank vault, they won’t be put off by a six-inch steel door, alarms and CCTV systems – they’ll find a way through somehow. Even if it means drilling through several feet of concrete over a Bank Holiday weekend.

There’s a lesson here for businesses, even if they don’t hold a hoard of gold and precious gems on their premises. Cybercriminals are just as skilled and determined as their colleagues in the offline world; if they know that there’s valuable data to steal, they will use the most devious and ingenious methods to steal it. Continue reading

“Yes, I hear you” (but I won’t remember or understand what you’ve just said)

Listening, really listening, is a skill. It’s not just about hearing – it’s also about understanding. Sadly, we’re losing our ability to listen. In part this is because we’re not adjusting to the environment around us, and we’re not utilizing tools that allow us to properly tune in.

 

The English literature scholar and teacher Mark Edmundson recently explained how college students suffer from “cognitive impatience.” They no longer have the patience to read longer, more difficult texts, he said. Today’s students, it has been suggested, cannot read with the critical analysis required to understand the complex arguments often found in more demanding texts.  Continue reading

Traditional Wireless Technology Is A Waste of Space

As businesses embrace the benefits of wireless technology telephony, they quickly run up against space limitations in today’s cheek-by-jowl office environments. New wireless standards offers a chance to re-think the office space. 

Communications technology might be making distances irrelevant, but people are acutely aware of the way that their own personal space is diminishing. The proportion of the planet living in urban areas has grown from 34 per cent in 1960 to over half in 2014, and we’re living and working in ever-smaller spaces. The average UK living room has shrunk by a third since the 1970s, for example; while in the US, each worker has lost 20 square feet of personal space since 1992.  Continue reading

Customers don’t care about it, but will leave you because of it.

The bad news. There are five issues common to Call Centers that can cause you to lose 9 out of 10 customers.

The good news. Once addressed, you can make your top call agents almost twice as productive as their least industrious counterparts – boosting customer satisfaction and upping retention rates.

 

When someone rings in to a call center looking to resolve a problem, they’re going to be pretty selfish. They might even be angry. They’ll probably be impatient, too. And so they should be. They purchased a product or a service and, for whatever reason, something has gone wrong. They don’t care about your problems as a service provider – they simply care about their problems going away. And if you can’t help, they’ll be the ones going… directly to your competition. Continue reading

With Latest Upgrade, Joining the Team Makes More Sense than Ever!

If you currently collaborate using Microsoft Teams, or are thinking of adopting Teams, here’s some great news! You can now control your Microsoft Teams experience directly from your Jabra audio devices.

The pace of change in the online collaboration space has gone from super-fast to downright dizzying.

At least that’s the conclusion I’m drawing from Microsoft’s announcement that it is integrating the ability to control calls directly from audio devices into its Microsoft Teams collaboration tool.  Continue reading