Our aim has always been to sustain our position as one of the leading audio solution brands in the market, says Sennheiser’s Mridul Jain

With the onset of hybrid working especially in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, audio solutions have become a key to do business all over the world. Sennheiser, already a big name in the professional audio segment, has taken it up a notch higher with the recent launch of the TeamConnect Intelligent Speaker in India. It supports meetings for up to 10 people and features an omnidirectional speaker that covers a 3.5m radius and seven integrated beamforming microphones. The TeamConnect Intelligent Speaker also works with Microsoft Teams, providing automatic meeting transcript in real-time, identifying the individual people speaking by name, in case they have enrolled their voices. Mridul Jain, Director – Sales Bizcom, Sennheiser India, spoke more about this product, in a conversation with Ramesh Kumar Raja. He also talked about game-changing moment in the industry and Sennheiser’s preparedness to revolutionize the Bizcom space. Excerpts:

As you know that businesses are now settling with the hybrid working system, so according to you how has the hybrid work environment impacted the Bizcom segment for the brand?

We discovered the technology facilitating hybrid working and flexibility to support different ways of working. Automate people management, connect employees, and create efficient working environments that maximize productivity and improve engagement. The hybrid workplace generally allows employees the opportunity to fit work around their lives, rather than structuring work around fixed hours logged into an office. For many employees and employers, it’s an optimal balance of productive work with reduced stress and less commuting. We noticed significant changes at workplaces and matched our expertise to help community for easy learning and communication with our new idea of UC products and software enhancement for better communications.

What, according to you, is the recent game-changing moment in the industry?

The COVID-19 pandemic hit hard, and it also significantly accelerated the digitalization of most business sectors. For many, remote working has been the newly-accepted mode of working, so the ability to do business from anywhere is beginning to look like the most important superpower for any company. Likewise, our new UC product expands our TeamConnect family, built on the foundation of innovation and beamforming technology. Developed in partnership with Microsoft, this latest solution brings Sennheiser to the next level of Unified Communications (UC) to address the needs of flexible, hybrid and remote working and we would love to have you be one of the first to learn all about it. So, if you want to stay ahead of the curve and be one of the first to get the scoop on this next level, UC audio device, then sign up with us to see how things will change the entire corporate communication.

“Our new UC product expands our TeamConnect family, built on the foundation of innovation and beamforming technology. Developed in partnership with Microsoft, this latest solution brings Sennheiser to the next level of Unified Communications (UC) to address the needs of flexible, hybrid and remote working”

How has been your brand’s performance in the last few years? What are your expectations from sales in the coming years?

We have been growing over the course of the past 6-7 years by more than double digits and look forward to the same kind of growth for the next 4-5 years. The period between 2020-21 was tough and we were not an anomaly on this front but it is how well we bounced back which is what makes me proud of my team both internal and external. We are blessed to be working with the best in the industry with a one point focus of providing the best experience to our clients and we look forward to working even more closely to enable the best experience for our customers.

As we see India rapidly growing in three different markets such as Govt., Education and Corporate, we are equally focussed on these three categories. We are expecting growth in the wireless segment along with Touchless systems as a standard solution for all meeting and collaboration rooms.

What is the brand’s vision behind launching the TCIS and what are its differentiating KSPs?

The TeamConnect Intelligent Speaker is the ultimate new audio solution optimized for mid-sized Microsoft Teams rooms for up to 10 people. It is designed specifically to give teams a whole new way to collaborate: smart, focused, inclusive and as if everyone is in one place. Intelligent solutions such as the integrated Cortana voice recognition software make operation on the product itself obsolete. Automatic meeting notes make an inclusive meeting experience possible for remote and hard-of-hearing participants. As an integral part of the room and equipped with the latest technology, the product offers an omnidirectional speaker and covers a 3.5m radius with 7 integrated beamforming microphones.

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What is the brand’s strategy and vision for growth in the Indian market this year and how strong is Sennheiser’s Bizcom segment in our country?

As for brand’s vision, we have five broad growth strategies which include right sizing the Indian market, understand Indian customer’s needs, adapt and delight with specific business model, market expansion, and delighting our partners with our unique solutions and relationships. This game-changing move of delighting our customers with understanding their pain point has positioned us as an attractive destination for growing our base with unique long-term mutual growth potential of the Indian subcontinent AV market and Sennheiser.

If I talk about the strongness and the visibility, then we have successfully achieved some 20 per cent of the organized Indian conference and meeting market demands/ requirements with Sennheiser products. Here again, it can be seen that innovative strength, relationship, quality, and excellence make a lasting impact. Our most significant target markets include the major Indian cities. We have important customers from the Govt institutions, Corporate and IT hubs, manufacturing, and prestigious educational institutes on our books, with Sales and Service bases in Gurgaon, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, and Hyderabad. We are now spreading our wings to Tier 2 cities with a plan to address the needs of use of UC products enabling world class experiences.

Is there any solution for non-certified Microsoft rooms?

Sennehsier has been in the market for past 15 years now and our aim has always been to sustain our position as one of the leading audio solution brands in the market. With the same thought process, we came up with this product. Yes, a person will be able to enjoy the features of the product mainly when they have a certified Microsoft Team rooms and will work without it also as a speaker but will not transcribe.

How is Sennheiser planning to revolutionize the Bizcom space in the new market?

Our mission is to be a strong industry partner for audio solutions with the goal of optimizing working and learning environments in education, Corporate and Govt. sector.

With our market-leading products for touchless audio and digital wireless technology, as well as our traditional solutions, we want to be perfect, value adding and preferred audio communication provider. Through our network of global partnerships, we also offer the freedom and flexibility to design our own ecosystem without restrictions, hence making us brand agnostic and giving the customer varied options.

Apart from the brand being a synonym for quality, I would say Sennheiser stands for enabling enthusiasm and solving real and stubborn problems related to audio reinforcement.

“With our market-leading products for touchless audio and digital wireless technology, as well as our traditional solutions, we want to be perfect, value adding and preferred audio communication provider. Through our network of global partnerships, we also offer the freedom and flexibility to design our own ecosystem without restrictions”

What are your future plans and roadmap for this year?

Indian market is tough in terms of many factors such as educating the customer, emotional buying decision and expansion geographically to Tier B. Even the rapid infrastructure development and a lot of key Govt initiatives have led to an increase in demand for various opportunities.

With fierce competition in the market, digital audio platforms are also repositioning themselves as audio streaming, unified communications etc. by including various technologies of various end customers.

The growth rate of India’s installed sound industry is expected to be between 7.23% CAGR between 2018-2023, as per various industry reports. We feel that we can easily grow on a higher scale since Audio during these two years has become a very important part of any meeting environment and I personally believe that Audio brings the emotional connect to any meeting and hence is of utmost importance.

What are the key challenges faced by the brand during the pandemic?

The outset of the pandemic brought a feeling of confusion and a dilemma that probably the world had come to an end. The morale was also low since we like meeting people and our business is very relationship centric, and the travel restrictions made that all the more difficult. But, backing out is not an option and we saw an opportunity in the Touchless Audio market which helped us cater to the growing requirements of how the world will meet and collaborate.

The integrated or installed audio markets experienced overall more stability as the time progressed in the pandemic. We focused on our target markets such as corporate, government and higher education, and these were key to this stability. Corporate communication was one of the most positive areas of the industry over the past 24 months, driven forward by work-from home trends and the return to the office. Despite installed audio solutions being subject to project delays at the beginning of the pandemic, the overwhelming need to equip workplaces for the return to work created a significant demand for audio communication products in the second half of the 2021. The infrastructure push and money spent by the Govt during these two years for various AV upgrades is also a testimony of the India story which is here to stay. Also, the long-term cultural impacts of the pandemic are only expected to see this market continue to grow, as companies worldwide glued to long-term work from home strategies.

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