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Shure’s Chris Merrick on latest developments and ISE 2019

Chris Merrick, Shure’s director of global marketing, integrated systems, talks to Daniel Gumble about the company’s progress and the importance of ISE

Over the past decade or so, Shure has been widening its focus, making substantial inroads into the integrated systems sector while continuing to service customers in the microphone market. Daniel Gumble caught up with Chris Merrick, the company’s director of global marketing, integrated systems, to find out more about its plans for ISE 2019 and its strategy for the year ahead…

Last month, Shure’s UK operation underwent something of a minor rebrand, changing its moniker from Shure Distribution UK to simply Shure UK. In addition to the streamlining of its name, the announcement also came with the promise of increased end-client engagement and a move away from third party brands. As far as rebrands go, this one could understandably be categorised as a relatively minor one, yet in many ways, it is emblematic of Shure’s gradual evolution in recent years from microphone specialist to one of the foremost names in the integrated systems sector.

That’s not to say that the company has lost sight of its origins – it will forever be synonymous with the ubiquitous SM58, and continues to do great business in the mic market – but since the turn of the decade, Shure has seamlessly been expanding its focus along with its client base with the minimum of fuss.

This time last year, when Shure CEO Chris Schyvinck sat down with us to discuss the brand’s diversification, she reflected: “Back when I started we were predominantly a pro audio company and were dealing a lot with wired microphones; our technology has proliferated so much through the years. So we’ve gone from having the strong foundation of knowing everything about acoustics and transducers to then adding the wireless components of that and getting more involved in DSP and software over the past decade. Now the concerns that we have are around networking and security and seeing these technologies layer on top of each other.”

As a result of these shifts within the brand’s market view, shows such as ISE, which takes place from February 5-8 at the Amsterdam RAI, have become more important than ever. 

It’s been a year since we last spoke to Shure at the 2018 ISE show. What can you tell us about the company’s activity in the integrated system market over the past 12 months?

We remain hyper-focused on introducing intuitive products that end-users can easily adopt and utilise, and products that help integrators exceed customer expectations. From things like our Designer software – which enables systems integrators, designers and sales staff to configure Shure supported hardware via one tool – to Microflex Complete Wireless, we continue to set our sights on customer success. On top of this, our deep roots in wireless technology and audio performance continue to inform the growth and success of our wireless conferencing portfolio. Understanding the RF environment and building meeting room solutions based on this is a natural application for us. It seems as though the company has been making major inroads into this sector in recent years.

What is the strategy behind this?

We understand – and have witnessed – how both AV and IT solutions are critical for business success in today’s world; in recent years, these solutions have become a fundamental and known aspect of everyday business life. With this in mind, we’re dedicated to strengthening our commitment to introducing products that help improve and optimise integrator workflow and efficiency.

How crucial is the ISE show to Shure in 2019?

The show is incredibly crucial and a very important exhibition, especially when it comes to getting face-to-face time with customers and partners. For us, it has been a really great place to introduce new products and services in the market and give our clients and partners the opportunity to experience our latest solutions in person.

What do you make of the move to Barcelona? Do you see it as an opportunity to get in front of even more customers?

The show’s rapid growth is a testament to the overall health of the industry – something Shure is also experiencing. It was only a matter of time until the event outgrew the current venue in Amsterdam, which in the grand scheme of things is quite a wonderful problem to have. ISE has expanded from a channel event to large scale production with a significant platform in reaching end-customers and decision makers from corporations, government, and education. We appreciate and support the decision to make the move to Barcelona, one we see as a natural evolution for ISE to accommodate the show’s future development. There is no doubt it’s an exciting time to be part of the systems and AV industry.

What do you have planned for this year’s show? Any new products on the horizon?

We’ll be showcasing the Microflex Complete Wireless (MXCW) Conferencing System; we’re thrilled that this system is now available. A premier solution in our conferencing portfolio, MXCW offers wireless freedom and flexibility for conferences, meetings, and events within government, corporate, hotel, educational facilities, and more. Ideal for environments that require quick, intuitive set-up and breakdown, the all-in-one conferencing solution is dedicated to providing exceptional audio quality, network security, and ease of use. Additionally, we’re looking forward to showcasing Designer and System On Audio Asset Management Software.

What are the biggest challenges Shure face in what is a highly competitive integrated systems market?

The challenge isn’t a competition per se, but accelerated tempo in the market. We are seeing rapid growth of AV adoption in enterprises, the convergence of AV and IT, and an evolving market with lots of new products and technologies. To help channels and end-user organisations, we’ve recently launched our new 2-level Shure Audio Institute (SAI) Integrated Systems certification programme to help the development of these skills. The programme is targeted at those seeking general knowledge, or technical expertise. And it’s free.

And what are the biggest opportunities?

Audio/visual and IT domains are converging like never before, and that’s increasingly enabled by technology. In some cases, the hardware is either being displaced by software, or it’s becoming smarter by way of software. This presents a huge opportunity to develop software solutions that are just as smart to ensure customers’ needs are met. There is a new wave of demand for products that offer an end-to-end, comprehensive solution, one that enables full-system design, deployment, management, and control. We know that this transition has a lot to offer in terms of opportunity, so we’re committed to supporting networked audio by creating advanced audio solutions that meet enterprise IT needs.

What are your predictions for where this market is headed?

We expect to see manufacturers continue to rise to the occasion, providing end users with solutions that offer the sort of connectivity, security, and intuitiveness that’s desired. And of course, device intelligence will continue to boom, especially considering the growing number of IoT devices out there. Additionally, as enterprise IT grows to cover all aspects of a company’s networked solutions, smarter solutions that control each phase of a product’s life cycle will be essential. It’s no longer about creating standalone products that serve just one purpose in the AV or IT landscape. It’s about creating a holistic solution that serves a variety of purposes, all with the goal of providing end users seamless control and flexibility from start to finish.