Bang & Olufsen, the veteran sound specialist brand, and Cisco, the tech giant, have announced a curious alliance, the first fruits of which are wireless headphones.
They are two brands that have become the benchmark, each in its field, but which, until now, did not seem to have anything to do with it. Therefore, for the writer it was a surprise when he was contacted to inquire more about this alliance, with the opportunity to collect the words of Kristian Tear, the CEO of Bang & Olufsen.
The device that was born as a result of this alliance is the Bang & Olufsen Cisco 980 , which, how could it be otherwise, are wireless headphones with the high quality that the manufacturer has accustomed us to; the striking thing is that they are designed for hybrid work, allowing us to participate in online meetings with the best sound.
This device differs from the rest of the range in a very important detail: the integration with Cisco Webex , for video conferencing and online meetings. We can connect these headphones to any of our devices with Bluetooth 5.1, and great performance on calls is promised, to enhance voices and enhance the experience. Another important aspect is that it can be managed by system administrators, with access to real-time analytics and software protection to guarantee the security of calls.
It may come as a surprise that it doesn’t have the typical microphone boom we see in other work headphones, but that’s because it’s “virtual” – a series of microphones and B&O algorithms are capable of picking up our voice, and adaptive noise cancellation will prevent let in unwanted sounds.
It may sound a bit strange for a luxury product like this to be worn to work, but it makes more sense than it sounds. The goal of both companies is to offer the best experience for a hybrid work environment, where listening well to our co-workers is more difficult than simply reaching out to them. With hybrid work, and the growth of the metaverse to create virtual environments, sound will be one of those things that can not fail. To find out more, we spoke with Kristian Tear:
The announcement of the collaboration between Bang & Olufsen and Cisco has been surprising, and I personally did not expect it. What has been the motivation for this joint project? What do you think B&O and Cisco have in common?
First of all, we see great compatibility between Cisco and Bang & Olufsen, combining the capabilities of both brands to create an incredible product for the hybrid worker. Second, Cisco’s target audience of premium enterprise users is very similar to ours. Do current and future consumers want an exceptional sound experience? no matter if they are at work or at home , if they want to listen to music or make a business call? and we can appeal to all those use cases. Finally, the alliance with Cisco also allows us to amplify the Bang & Olufsen brand globally in the growing market for hybrid work.
When I think of B&O, I think of high-quality sound, and luxury products that go beyond anything possible. How does that apply to a professional hybrid work headset?
Great sound is more important than ever in a digital work environment. If you can’t hear what is being said, there is no meeting . At the same time, hybrid workers are looking for products that have more than one use case. They want a product that also makes them feel comfortable and looks good when they wear it to the office, on the go, or at home. We offer that with this product.
What have you achieved with your products that can be applied to a tool like these new Cisco headsets?
At the core of any Bang & Olufsen product is the unique combination of incredible sound, timeless design, and unsurpassed craftsmanship. It is the same with this product. When we combine those qualities with those of Cisco and the Webex team, we can achieve something new and different for the market.
What challenges have you had in developing this new product? What did they have to take into account that did not affect their previous products?
We always start with the consumer experience when we design a product? also when we work with great allies like Cisco. We take into account the needs of the hybrid worker and how we can combine the capabilities of both brands to elevate the experience. We did that with Cisco, and we’ve created something special.
B&O has expanded, with headsets like the incredible Beoplay Portal aimed at gamers. Now, we have this new hybrid work product. Can we expect the brand to expand into new markets in the near future? Can they maintain the brand image while expanding their business?
If we can. We believe that the incredible sound, design, quality and longevity of the product are more relevant than ever, and as long as we stay true to our brand, we see many opportunities for our business to continue to grow.
Gaming is an area where we believe we can create great experiences for the gamer community with our capabilities, as gamers are also looking for products that they can use for more than just gaming. The same goes for B2B (Business-to-Business) and appealing to the hybrid worker. For us, it has been a strategic focus to raise this in the last year and a half, and we have made several agreements in this space to grow our business in this growing market. Most recently, we announced our collaboration with HP on their new range of products for hybrid work, called ‘HP Presence’, and [now] we have revealed the alliance with Cisco.