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01732 759725 38 COLLABORATION with’ and left it at that. Now, businesses are coming back to us wanting to know what the right headset is for their needs.” Craven cites the example of a bank that still greets callers with a recorded message warning that agents are working from home and apologising for any background noise. This, she suggests, is bad for customer confidence, as consumers don’t like the idea of an agent’s partner or children being next to them when discussing confidential financial information, and also unnecessary as equipping agents with the right headset would block background noise anyway. “In this case, it’s very much a matter of ‘Let’s get you the right headset, so you can take that message off: you will feel more comfortable; the agent will feel more comfortable; and the consumer will feel more comfortable’. So, yes, there will definitely be a rise in demand from businesses looking to upgrade to the right headset.” Backing this up, Craven cites EPOS research showing that 83% of global decision-makers now think that audio equipment is as important or more important than the quality of laptop and PC equipment for efficient collaboration. “That’s really good news for our partners, because it means customers are going to continue to invest in this technology,” she says. BYOD RIP Craven adds that having a headset portfolio that meets specific customer needs is important now that IT departments are reasserting control over the headset buying process and increasingly involving end users in the selection process. “We are seeing a big move away from Bring Your Own Device. BYOD was immensely popular a few years ago, but IT departments really struggled to support a lot of devices from a lot of different manufacturers, especially if they had to do it remotely. So, throughout the pandemic we have seen procurement brought back A year of firsts EPOS has had a reassuringly busy start to 2021, with a new partner programme, a high profile sponsorship deal with Aston Martin and a raft of new product announcements. James Goulding finds out more about developments at the audio specialist from Sales Director Jane Craven. Audio brand EPOS has achieved a lot of firsts this year, including its first video product, its first mid-range wireless Bluetooth headset and its first global partner programme, which it is introducing to help partners upsell and cross-sell to their customer base from the company’s expanding product range. Like a lot of technology companies, EPOS experienced a boost in demand for its products last year, as previously office-based employees started working from home and collaborating over Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Headsets were often provided as part of a Work From Home toolkit, but as with some other emergency purchases, they were not necessarily the best ones for the job, so while it’s possible that everyone who needs a headset already has one, Jane Craven believes there is now a great opportunity for partners to upgrade existing headsets to something better. “Most people who understand they need a headset have one by now, but they are often entry-level headsets because at the time the business simply said ‘give me something that we can connect under central control to make things easier for the IT department. “At the same time, companies are getting really good at involving cross sections of their employees in the choice of headset. Rather than dictating one size fits all, the IT department or whoever is responsible for the roll-out is spending time asking ‘what is the job you do; do you travel a lot; do you sit in one position all day, so is comfort important; do you have a noisy environment at home, so is noise cancellation important. They are making sure people get the right headset and have a say in selecting it as well.” EPOS helps resellers facilitate this process, not only by engaging with the business on their behalf and providing trial equipment, but also by producing training guides showing how businesses can get the best out of each product and tailor settings to each individual’s needs. Partner programme To help partners maximise these opportunities, EPOS has launched its first tiered global partner programme. Called Amplify, this standardises the support that EPOS has been providing informally on a country by country basis and, instead of the previous division between managed and non-managed partners, introduces a tiered structure (Silver, Gold and Platinum) for the first time. “We operate a selected distribution system at EPOS, and in order to be Adapt 200 Jane Craven