This week, PGi and Plantronics announced a new strategic alliance, bringing the power of Plantronics’ Contextual Intelligence headsets to iMeet. The powerful sensors in the Voyager Legend UC line of headsets will now communicate your state to iMeet; take off your headset and iMeet will show you as muted or walk away from your computer and iMeet will set your status to “Away.”
I had the pleasure of meeting Jeffrey Siegel from Plantronics at a PGi event last week and he graciously agreed to hop into my iMeet room to talk Plantronics, PGi, contextual intelligence and more.Jeffrey Siegel, Plantronics VP of Strategy & New Business Development
Josh Erwin (JE): So Plantronics is a household name for business. You’re in 100% of the Fortune 100. But, at a higher level, what would you say is Plantronics’ mission? What gets you guys out of bed every day?
Jeffrey Siegel (JS): Our mission – simply smarter communications. Plantronics have been around since 1961, and that first 50 years was all about improving the hands free communications experience. Great audio, wireless for mobility, and ever-improving design/comfort.
With Contextual Intelligence, the journey of which began seven years ago, “simply smarter” means much more now – how we enable a better communication experience in a broader sense and help developers to create better user experiences when applications know certain things about what the user is doing in their physical and communications worlds.
JE: Since Contextual Intelligence is kind of the star of the show today, talk to me more about that and what it means both for Plantronics and its users.
JS: This is the first generation of Contextual Intelligence and what it can tell an application about you – are you wearing your headset, your physical proximity to your computing or telephony device, are you on a call and on which device, and who you are talking with – this is just the beginning of a journey. If you think about it, what we’re really doing is putting the human being at the edge of the computing infrastructure. In the past the edge was always the device – but now it’s you, the user.
How does this innovation create better meetings? With the right headset, iMeet now automatically knows things about your physical presence, including your proximity to your device, when you’re wearing your headset, and whether you’re muted. Contextual Intelligence makes iMeet more user-aware which iMeet then translates into even better meetings.An example of contextual intelligence in iMeet: when your headset is removed, iMeet automatically sets your status to “Away.”
JE: I know you probably can’t answer this, but I’m going to ask it anyways – where is Contextual Intelligence headed? What does the next wave look like? What is your dev team excited about?
JS: [laughs] Well, without getting into specifics…at the end of the day it’s about body-worn technology. Not just a speaker and a microphone, but the intelligence and the sensors that make these devices so much more, that enables the smartest applications and the best possible user experiences. Like I said, this first wave, the presence and proximity – this is barely scratching the surface of what we want to do.
JE: You’ve gotten to spend a lot of time around PGi. Why do you think PGi and Plantronics are such a good fit?
JS: Plantronics sees PGi as a kindred spirit…we see a similar DNA in PGi, a culture of innovation, a deep-seated belief that user experience isn’t simply a nice-to-have. It is essential to creating the value proposition. We both put user experience at the center of the universe.
iMeet stands out from the crowd with its live person-centered design and now even more so with incorporating contextual intelligence. The next step for both of our companies is delivering even richer meeting experiences to the knowledge workers and organizations relying every day on collaboration tools for their success.
JE: Jeffrey, thanks so much for taking the time to meet with me today. I know all of us at both companies are excited about what the future holds.
JS: It’s my pleasure – it’s great to find such remarkable similarities between our two companies based in two such different parts of the country – Santa Cruz and Atlanta. Yet, when I look at our roadmaps and the exciting potential to create value together, it’s impossible not to be excited and passionate about this alliance. At your event last week, Boland [PGi Founder & CEO Boland Jones] said it so well – life is short. If you’re not getting up every day incredibly excited and passionate about what you’re doing – then rethink that. I’ll tell you it makes my job a lot more fun being able to innovate together with a company like PGi. Plantronics is thrilled about this alliance.
To learn more about PGi, Plantronics and the future of business collaboration, download PGi’s latest eBook today featuring a guest chapter from Plantronics!