Why Innovation Itself Must Be The Next Big Thing

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

Last week I had the privilege of speaking in front of almost 300 people at the Taiwanese Digital Signage Multimedia Association’s (DSMA) annual forum during COMPUTEX TAIPEI.

dsma 2013 gp scala on stage

I was not alone in speaking of course, and the DSMA (mainly I think, due to the efforts of IAdea’s CEO John Wang) had managed to secure a particularly good speaker line up, err well with the exception of Intel who (a) as usual had nothing useful to say on the subject of digital signage and (b) didn’t even turn up for the speakers’ networking dinner the night before.

Here, in agenda order are some of what was said…

  • The title of my presentation was ‘Why Innovation Itself Must Be The Next Big Thing In Digital Signage±. I was asked specifically to talk about innovation (or as I saw it – ‘a sad lack of it’) and I focussed my talk on that and the challenges that the industry faced that I believed the DSMA and in particular the very entrepreneurial hardware folks in Taiwan could fix.
    As well as discussing Open Source (OpenSplash in particular but not exclusively), The GigaPixel Challenge (which went down rather well with all the techies from the device manufacturers present – all looking for that ‘next big thing’ of course) and Android.I made particular mention that “Launching An Android Player Is Not Innovation” (it’s a checkbox on someone’s product roadmap usually and it’s certainly not a panacea for any of the industry’s ills) and stressed that “Entrepreneurs Are Not Being Encouraged To Solve The Right Problems” – here for example I made mention of the 1,000+ digital signage software vendors and their products (Scala ‘clones’ the next speaker called them – see later).I posed the questions; Where is our eco-system and where are all the App developers? Suggested that ‘Open Source Should (perhaps) Be The Foundation For Any Industry App Store’ and left the audience with this message; How do we manage Gigapixels and how do we plan for the day when there are Pixels Everywhere?, How do we handle Shape? and How the hell do we encourage (more) innovation?
  • Next up was Scala, Asia Vice President, Mr. Guillaume Proux who surprised us by giving a truly brilliant presentation. If that sounds a little rude, it’s not meant to be. I’ve never seen a really good Scala presentation but this one blew the audience away. Quite simply it was the best presentation by a Scala person I have seen in ten years.It was entitled ‘Evolution of Digital Signage Markets: A Global View‘ and such was the cross over in some of the message between what I said and Guillaume said I suspect the audience would NOT believe that we had not collaborated (we hadn’t!). Guillaume made mention of the number of vendors in the market (the aforementioned ‘clone’ reference) and had a great Star Wars related graphic to illustrate his point. He explained that although the term ‘digital signage’ is probably 15 years old (Scala itself is now almost 26 of course) there has been little innovation. To illustrate that point he showed a great slide of a twenty year old Scandinavian install – similar to this one (click here) in fact from even further back – the 1980’s and then compared it to a more recent deployment.Both used text and graphics (nicely as it happens) in the same way and the only difference was the CRT versus the LCD that it was displayed on!
    Guillaume injected great humour into his speech. It really was outstanding.
  • IAdea Corporation 綠 創科技, CEO, Mr. John C. Wang was up next and he kicked off by saying that he had the worst job following Guillaume (he did, but he didn’t let the audience down). His presentation ‘Innovation in Digital Signage Open Standards‘ updated the audience on the progress being made by the W3C on open standards and in particular the use of HTML5. Funnily enough we were present 12 months earlier in Tokyo when this first started, so it was nice to get a first hand catch-up if you will. It seems like tremendous strides have been made and he gave great examples of Risevision and Signagelive menu board and corporate communication deployments. Next up for John (he promised us), is for his steering group to take another look at Open Splash.
  • Intel APAC Embedded Sales and Marketing Group Director, Mr. Graham Steen was up next, trotting out the very tired ‘Solutions For A Changing Retail Landscape‘. Frankly he needn’t have bothered. It was the same old AMT, AIM Suite, Internet Thing of Things corporate presentation deck that I am convinced (I was asleep for half of it until Guillaume nudged me and woke me up) never once used the term ‘digital signage’ or Android (which has surely won that battle).The speaker did let on that there will be a SIGNIFICANT announcement with regard Intel Aim Suite later this month (then went on to say, that it will probably only affect North America) but seriously there was nothing else of note – oh yes, there was the Cola machine you could have a conversation with. Yawn.
  • Finishing up the event, and the DSMA this time saved the most dynamic and thought provoking presentation to last was ‘Design and Digital – reinventing the total customer experience‘ from RED Digital Management Digital Strategist – Director Mr. Stephen Borg who is in reality of course one of the shakers and movers at AOpen. We’ve seen Stephen speak before and for an Australian with a stupid accent he’s very good (no, seriously, he is a SUPERB speaker). His knowledge of the retail sector and what makes it work is second to none – couple that with his Fujitsu Retail, Fujitsu TELentice digital signage background and AOpen have with him a great force to get retailers to add digital into their mix (where appropriate).And that was very much the point of some of his presentation – he showed designs and real world examples with and without digital signage. Taking the audience through the process of why he chose such and such for each retailer (their brand, their needs, their budget etc).Stephen also managed to explain to us legibly and credibly about AOpen’s OpenService offering – something that no-one else has ever managed to do. For those vendors who feared (like we did) that it was an offering in competition to them, we would add that his examples included Scala, TELentice and others in their deployments – “best of breed” I think he called it.This presentation for sure should be a staple for anyone who thinks they understand retail (like Intel for example!!).

Overall, the DSMA managed to get almost 300 people together. It was an excellent morning’s event and for me personally well worth flying 6,000+ miles to attend.

±In my presentation deck I forgot to credit Andreas Souptonuts and Bob Rushby, from whom I ‘borrowed’ slides from their Thought Leadership Summit so let me do that now.

You can find my complete presentation as a PDF up on SlideShare here

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