Centre stage with Christopher Parker, Senior Product Manager, Sharp Electronics Europe…
A topical Q&A with a leading light within the unified communications community.
Born – I was born and raised in London but have been living in Germany for more than 20 years now. I moved to Germany in 1997 to work at Elo Touch Systems, then NEC, then Sharp – all in the display industry.
Studied / Education background – I have a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering (MEng) from Southampton University. My degree was sponsored by the National Grid company and had a focus on power distribution and electromagnetism.
Current role / bio – I joined Sharp in 2015 from NEC and am responsible for the European product management of Sharp’s innovative collaboration solutions. I have worked in the Visual Displays industry for more than 20 years, delivering market-oriented, technically complex business solutions in culturally diverse and highly competitive environments. I have a passion for communication and ensuring complex and sophisticated technical solutions are simply understood by sales, marketing, service support and channel partners.
Who do you work for and what does your role entail?
I’m a senior product manager at Sharp Europe bringing our innovative collaboration solutions to market. I act as the bridge between our factory and manufacturing team and our sales teams across Europe. I need to ensure that customer expectations are met by delivering the right products and solutions to improve their work life. It’s making sure that customer needs are fed back in to design and production in a virtuous circle.
What made you choose a career in UC?
Well really, I chose a career in displays and that has evolved into a career in Unified Communications as technology has evolved. When I joined Sharp I worked on our BIG PAD range of displays and had to learn interactivity. It became clear that separate solutions for collaborating, such as interactive displays and video conferencing were converging. Previously separate and discrete systems needed to converge to simplify things for the user. That’s been interesting to be a part of.
What do you think is required to be successful in the UC industry?
You need to be strong in both IT and AV as the industry continues to see the convergence of technologies from both categories. Both industries are guilty of being rather jargon-heavy, so as a marketeer you need to be good at translating information about technical features into the real-world benefits of using a particular solution. You need to keep in mind that successful products must be simple, intuitive and easy to use. The end goal of UC is to help people to work together.
What’s been your biggest work achievement of the last 12 months?
Definitely the launch of the first Windows collaboration display from Sharp. This is part of the next generation of interactive displays designed to support and improve team work. It has been a multi-stakeholder project as the display meets Microsoft’s specifications and combines Sharp’s award-winning touch technology with sensors for a smarter workspace. Incorporating IoT cloud services into our solution has been fascinating and we’re excited to see how our customers use this device.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
The advice I would pass on is be yourself, but listen first.
What are your predictions for the UC industry for 2019/20 or beyond?
One of the main trends we have seen over the last few years is people investing in displays for meeting areas and I think this will continue. It will become expected to not only have a display for sharing in your main meeting rooms, but in informal working areas too. Businesses will pay more attention to making their meeting spaces as well-used and productive as possible with more thought given to design. Virtual meetings will continue to increase as people travel less to reduce their corporate environmental impact and remote meeting software will become easier to use as it becomes ubiquitous. We will see more cloud-based services, and more automation of meeting admin.
Join Christopher at UC EXPO at ExCeL London, 15-16 May 2019
The new Windows collaboration display from Sharp can monitor your meeting environment. But what are the optimal environmental conditions for a meeting and how will having more data change the way we meet? Come and find out at UC EXPO!