India’s audio conferencing industry is still in its infancy compared with markets in the rest of the world.
I’ve been working for Shure in Mumbai since 2017 and have seen firsthand how corporate companies, government departments, and smaller businesses engage with wireless audio solutions. Much of my role focuses on educating our customers to help them understand the potential of audio to enable them to achieve business objectives. It means there are plenty of opportunities and challenges in this ever-evolving marketplace.
There are essentially two types of customers in India with different levels of experience and knowledge around wireless and audio solutions. They are:
Big international companies with presences in India such as HSBC or Amazon have few issues with wireless audio technology. They either leverage experience from their Western counterparts or have dedicated AV teams installing their solutions using similar methods to colleagues based in the US or UK.
Smaller local businesses possess less knowledge and experience around audio so need more support when it comes to implementing wireless solutions. As the majority do not have a dedicated AV team, they often select audio systems unfit for purpose in their work environment.
Our role is to not only offer bespoke audio solutions and advice around products but to educate professionals on wireless and best practices.
There are many common misconceptions or mistakes I’ve seen from my experiences in India.
Many IT professionals looking to adopt wireless audio don't realize that digital solutions offer greater security when compared with analog. Considering security should be a priority when dealing with confidential information. If your video conferences involve the discussion of sensitive details, then you do not want to risk them being accessible by anyone outside your organization.
At multinational companies, wireless solutions are often deployed successfully thanks to dedicated audio professionals or teams leveraging their internal networks in other regions. But many local organizations in India lack the relevant experience to get this right every time.
I recently visited a company that had invested time and effort into fitting a new wireless audio solution but the installation was incorrect. Solving this is an interesting part of my role but the ecosystem in India certainly needs to develop a greater understanding of how wireless audio works to save on time and costs.
All end-users need to consider issues around battery life and charging cycles with wireless audio solutions. These products need to be maintained so they are prepared and available whenever they are required, a need which is often overlooked until it is too late.
There are plenty of common mistakes around the basics of wireless solutions in this market. They include:
Many end-users do not understand the importance of antennae in a wireless microphone system set up. So they are often placed/hidden above the ceiling or behind other surfaces. This creates issues as to be used effectively and signal drops become inevitable, antennae cannot be hidden.
The antennae distribution/installation of a wireless microphone system is often incorrect. We receive calls from customers as they have drops in their audio. When we visit to investigate, a system, whether it be in a boardroom or training room, has usually been installed badly. More education on the basics around implementing these solutions is required to avoid these unnecessary call outs.
Many local companies are price sensitive when it comes to their system integrator and will often choose a service based on the lowest cost. We urge end-users and customers to do due diligence and always work with certified engineers when possible.
Many end-users don't realize there is a difference between analog or digital wireless audio solutions. In many cases, end-users are even unaware of which they are using. All they know is that their solution is wireless.
Analog wireless solutions work well in smaller work environments or for small-to-medium enterprises. If your meetings only feature a handful of microphones and audio channels, where non-confidential information is discussed, then analog is very effective.
If your work scenario requires security or encryption, then you will need to select a digital wireless solution. Digital also optimizes bandwidth on your network to allow more microphone channels. This leads to better audio quality and speech intelligibility, particularly if your meeting features multiple participants.
In many situations, audio conferencing in India is a responsibility for IT teams, yet the majority of these professionals are inexperienced and even anxious about working with wireless audio solutions.
We work to bridge the knowledge gap between audio conferencing and IT. Forward-thinking companies and organizations are aware of this need for greater education around these solutions. But it’s a mindset we want to embed across all levels of business in India and beyond.
Devraj Panicker is Market Development Manager at Shure Incorporated.
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