Look who’s getting into the big data business

Plantronics is an audio communications headset vendor that focuses on commercial markets such as call centres and consumer electronics. The company based in Santa Cruz, Calif., has recently pivoted its business to include a Big Data analytics solution. Plantronics released Manager Pro v3.8, which came along with an Asset Analysis suite. The new Asset Analysis suite can manage the wireless headset devices and provide contact centre managers with new insights from voice interactions.

The Manager Pro with Asset Analysis can track device deployment and configuration, firmware updates, softphone deployments, and implement user personas that help device settings. The go-to-market strategy for the 100 per cent channel -friendly vendor is to position Plantronics Manager Pro a software subscription service.

“Most of our history is as a headset provider of great audio quality headsets,” said Richard Kenny, Plantronics’ head of global contact centre marketing. “We are now seeing a fundamental change and it’s about who we are connecting to. That is driving a change in our business. Many years ago a desk had a big plastic telephone with lots of buttons and the idea of a headset at the desk was a decisive change. Today we are making intelligent connected devices for contact centres working with PC-based softphones and the device we connect to have become more intelligent. And, this shift is enabling us to be more intelligent and bring much more information onto the device,”

Kenny added more meetings today have at least one person calling in remotely. From his research 60 per cent of all meetings held globally are remote and these meetings can lead to a “big waste of time” if there is badly configured audio equipment and the participants can’t hear the discussion.

“You want the phone call to be crystal clear. This is a big focus for us and Manager Pro is an intelligent device on the network,” he said.

But Manager Pro is also collecting asset data that can indicate how many headsets there are, how they are configured, are they connected to Skype for Business, Cisco Jabber. In the future, Plantronics devices will be able to collect data such as who was doing all the talking in the meeting or who was just listening and not participating. Or have meeting descriptions of customer calls.

Kenny added that Plantronics has no plans on recording meetings as it would be a compliance restriction.

Currently Plantronics uses a two tier channel model and work with a whole host of distributors. But that has changed slightly as their big data business grows. Kenny told CDN the company is interested in partnering with Managed Services Providers who can position Manager Pro with Asset Analysis suite as a service offering.

The company has also confirmed deals with two distributors and two channel partners for Canada and the U.S. Margins for the software solution could hit 30 points, according to Kenny. Plantronics will make the software available as a standalone product but Kenny said for optimal performance the two products work better together.

“We want to help the reseller understand the problems they are solving. We are looking at educating the channel partners on who they are connecting to. In the past, they sold to a Telco solely on technical specifications. That customer today has become a line of business manager who does not have a tech focus, but is tasked focus. We have put in place personas for channel partners to help them sell the solution. There are five personas of people you know and it will help the partner provide the exact technical needs and knowledge to create a really great connection,” he said.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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