Intelligent Design: Taking Call Center Headsets to the Next Level

By now, many people are familiar with the concept of heat mapping. The idea is to observe where employees typically congregate to determine whether the physical work environment is organized as efficiently as possible and then reconfigure the space if it isn't.

Heat mapping is important because, ever since the walls came down and office spaces opened up, organizations have struggled to make the workplace a productive environment. They've tried everything, from sound-absorbing materials, dedicated quiet areas, codes of conduct, even lots of leafy foliage. Despite their efforts, the open office space remains the place employees love to hate.

Help might finally be on the way, and from a relatively unlikely source: Headsets.

That's right. Headsets. And I'm not just referring to noise-canceling features that erase the din of chatty coworkers and overworked printers. No, I'm talking about powerful intelligence that organizations can use to create a more productive, efficient, and quiet work environment.

The Latest Digital Smart Device

Beneath their utilitarian exteriors, new-generation headsets are, in fact, digital smart devices packed with sophisticated digitalization that enable them to capture a treasure trove of previously untapped data, such as background sound levels.

With the growing pace with which phone conversations and virtual meetings are getting digitalized by unified communications solutions like Skype and Skype for Business, headsets have become powerful tools in the modern workplace. Their advanced microphone technology makes them the perfect instruments to gather data about the office sound environment.

All this makes headsets the perfect weapon for taking on the two biggest time-wasters and frustrations in call-intensive environments: too much noise and too many interruptions.

Headsets enable us to take heat mapping to an entirely new level of precision. Rather than merely observing the office environment, we can use these devices to gather unbiased data about the workplace and, perhaps most important, capture detailed information about the intensity of background noises. And instead of striving to get rid of noise in the office (which is virtually impossible), we can gather and analyze data from each headset to construct a detailed map of noise hotspots and reconfigure the workspace to relocate those noisy areas or employees elsewhere.

A Can't Miss Developer Opportunity

For businesses, headsets offer a golden opportunity to convert ordinary data into powerful insights and then act on it to create a better work environment and deliver higher-quality customer service. Achieving this goal, however, requires developers to come in and help convert the data into new insights. Without this, the data serves nobody.

The opportunity is somewhat reminiscent of when smartphones burst onto the scene a decade ago. Knowing a great thing when they saw it, developers almost immediately began writing all kinds of cool, useful (and, yes, some not-so-useful) apps to broaden their appeal and harness the power within these devices. The results are evident today in the millions of news, weather, sports, shopping, travel, and countless other apps packed into our smartphones.

If even a small fraction of the developer community were to embrace the opportunity today's digital headsets represent, organizations and workers stand to benefit tremendously.

We can't fully escape the noise and distractions inherent in today's open office spaces. But the combination of digital headsets and some savvy developers looking for the next big opportunity offer the promise of at least some peace and quiet for today's workers and organizations.

Holger Reisinger is senior vice president of large enterprise solutions at Jabra, an audio and communication technology specialist.