Finding the Value of HD Voice Beyond Conferencing Services
May 16, 2017
The Connected Work research team at Frost & Sullivan has long advocated high-definition (HD) audio as part of business communications solutions. High-definition or high-resolution audio is generally supported today by all contemporary IP telephony desk phones, conferencing devices, professional headsets, and more recently by mobile devices on which telephony and UC clients are provisioned. Many business users that are accustomed to a narrow-band landline phone or traditional cellular voice experience would immediately notice the significant improvement HD voice technology brings to audio interactions. Yet, there is a challenge to more widespread demand for enhanced audio—one needs to experience the difference to appreciate it and acknowledge that traditionally bad audio is absolutely not good enough.
It was about five years ago that Dolby Labs upped the unified communications and collaboration (UCC) industry’s ante in high-quality enterprise audio. Soon after unveiling its spatial audio capabilities the company launched a service in partnership with BT Conferencing. The solution was, and still is, an amazing experience. The Dolby technology is excellent at making it easy to identify who’s speaking and follow the conversation in physical and/or virtual rooms while also substantially reducing ambient and background noise (sidebar conversations, papers shuffling, etc.). Not lost on me are the audible nuances of attitudes, intent and other behavioral queues provided by meeting participants that Dolby Spatial Audio surfaces in voice-only or content-based sessions. For example, sighs of boredom, hints of frustration, pitches of agreement and excited tones of speech. These are nearly as ranging and helpful as the body language queues that users value in video conferencing interactions.
Over the last two years, Dolby has systematically expanded its technology and channel partnerships to include Highfive, PGi, West InterCall, BlueJeans and BT Conferencing, bringing its total to five. Dolby’s provider partners acknowledge that, without high-quality audio, conferencing meetings become much less effective and detract from productivity rather than enhance it. Their respective Dolby Voice integrations give these conferencing service providers (CSPs) significant differentiation in a fiercely competitive market. While all these partners are CSPs, many others in the broader unified communications and collaboration industry can leverage Dolby Labs’ innovative technologies to gain a competitive edge and benefit business customers.
In the fast-growing unified communications as a service (UCaaS) market, smart providers have moved well beyond competing on the grounds of low-cost subscriptions—they are differentiating on breadth of features and service reliability and quality. It’s the latter area wherein certain UCaaS providers can further separate themselves and boost their value to customers through partnership with Dolby Labs. Yes, most providers already incorporate HD voice in their services, whether through in-house or partner-provided functionality. However, there is not a high degree of differentiation among their HD audio capabilities. Overall, the majority offers an experience that’s a far cry from the Dolby Voice experience.
The value of superior audio quality goes beyond calling and conferencing. There are many telephony and UC applications that would be enhanced significantly through Dolby Voice integration. IVR, on-hold announcements, broadcast messaging, voicemail, call recording and playback, paging, and more would all be notably improved from a user experience and productivity perspective through Dolby spatial audio technology.
Dolby Labs has taken a very measured approach to its technology and channel partner relationships to ensure quality and differentiation for all parties. The UCaaS space represents an immediate opportunity for the company to further impact the UCC market. The question is which UCaaS providers are going to blaze a trail that sets them apart from the pack.
Sixteen + years of experience in enterprise communications markets. Particular expertise in: Competitive and market intelligence, Market trend analysis and forecasting, Solutions development, marketing, sales and service support strategies.