Dealmakers' Q&A: Expanding Horizons

Listen Technologies and Bosch Security Systems have declared an agreement granting exclusive distributorship of the Bosch conferencing solutions in the U.S. to Listen. Joris Prikken, business development manager, North America, for Bosch Security Systems and Russ Gentner, cofounder and president of Listen Technologies Corporation, discuss here their joint plans for expanding into the U.S. conference-systems market.

SCN: Can you explain the thinking behind this partnership?

Joris Prikken: Bosch audio conferencing systems are the most requested worldwide, with the exception of North America where our brand is less well known. A partnership with Listen Technologies is the ideal solution for us. Specializing in audio telecommunications, Listen has enormous experience in precisely those areas that interest us. They also have a sales and distribution network throughout North America with experienced representatives. Listen knows our products and will be able to maximize our potential in the U.S. market.

Russ Gentner: There's not a big demand for multi-language conferencing in North America, and this is what Bosch is renowned for. However, the technology Bosch has developed, especially in their new digital systems, is truly outstanding and the applications are not confined to interpreting. Listen's mission will be to use our experience to develop novel applications and introduce these to the market.

Are you confident that Bosch will be able to compete in the U.S. market against home-grown
products?

Joris Prikken: Actually there is a lot of interest in Bosch systems and we are already penetrating the market with installations for government and corporate areas. Examples include the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Auditorium of the FedEx Institute of Technology at the University of Memphis, TN and a number of city and county councils like those of Tampa, FL and 13 city councils in New Brunswick, Canada. The products are also completely up to speed with the video-conferencing needs of North American users and the installations can be fully integrated with Crestron and AMX control systems. But even though users have had access to the products and are impressed with what they've seen, this has been on a piecemeal basis and they haven't been made aware of all the possibilities. The partnership with Listen will change that by opening up an authorized supply channel to customers and providing them with full support.

What strengths of the Bosch product range does Listen feel it will be able to exploit?

Russ Gentner: The Bosch range can be tailored to many applications. We can supply not only fully-integrated systems like you see at the Auditorium of the FedEx Institute of Technology with CCTV plus extensive interpreting and voting facilities, but also microphone-only systems for boardrooms. Many city and county councils are unaware of the way in which a conference system could revolutionize their lives by facilitating communication and enabling them to accomplish far more in their daily work. This is an enormous, relatively untapped market.