There’s seemingly an unwritten rule with those who write and comment on the digital signage industry not to get in fights with each other over comment, reporting and what have you. For those who flock to our own site (many of them industry newcomers) they don’t want to see ‘insiders’ squabbling but I am afraid that this week we need to break that cardinal rule as we cannot let the rubbish cobbled together by Christopher Hall over at DigitalSignageToday go unanswered.
We are talking of course of his purported list ‘The 11 Most Influential Executives in Digital Signage‘ which contains (one assumes in alphabetical order) page by page; Jose Avalos, Alan Brawn, Lyle Bunn, Philip M. Cohen, Brian Dusho, Paul J. Fleuranges, Chris Gibbs, David Levin, Garry McGuire, Tom Nix / Peter Cherna.
Seriously? I mean seriously? This is supposed to be a list of the industry’s top movers and shakers? We quote “these industry leaders have stood out over the last 12 months for the work they’ve done to make the industry stronger from within and to promote the medium without..
Now, we love lists. They are a useful, if somewhat, sometimes lazy journalistic, way to get easy copy. This list was supposedly put together by the ‘industry’ voting – though we would love to see the raw data that supports the inclusion of some of the idiots listed.
- Jose Avalos. With Christopher Hall’s sycophantic moderation of Intel’s retail webinars recently it is no surprise that they should put a man, who is unable to string a cogent sentence together in English, at the top of this list. How is Jose influential? What has he done? How has he driven the industry forward? With Intel’s marketing budget behind him he has had many chances to help Intel and the wider industry in general but quite simply hasn’t. Intel Aim Suite is a disaster – beaten hands down by Quividi (a company that is innovating and a company that is INFLUENTIAL) and Intel’s latest attempt at getting into the CMS space is so advanced it’s a Windows solution from Ryarc. Jose Avalos quite simply does MORE HARM to the industry than good.
- Alan Brawn, Lyle Bunn. I have lumped these two clowns† together as they are both consultants who are good at blowing their own trumpet but lack substance, style and a distinct lack of doing any good for the wider industry. Influential? How so, here are two people who have actually spent the last nine months trying to label our industry as DYNAMIC SIGNAGE. Our industry sorely needs some good consultants doing some impartial yet detailed analysis of some of the problems that it faces†† – all we seemingly get from Lyle Bunn is a litany of big words, followed by more big words in a series of re-hashed white papers. What the industry gets from these two are businesses looking to secure their next consulting gig.
- Philip M. Cohen. At last a name we can agree on although, perhaps the Mighty Phil Cohen would be more pleased at being included if he was with better company. If you haven’t agreed with anything I have written up until this point then simply compare what the Digital Signage Federation have been doing this year (under the Mighty Phil Cohen’s leadership) and what they did when Brawn was supposedly in charge. Unlike Avalos and the consultants listed previously, here is a man who has run multiple successful businesses, sold several and tirelessly and UNSELFISHLY helped drive the industry forward.
- Brian Dusho. Having any software CEO on this list doesn’t work, because apart from the innovation coming out of Ayuda Media Systems under the leadership of Andreas Souptonuts (think pay per look, various open source initiatives, no player player, etc.) there is little innovation and absolutely no influence coming out of this side of the industry at present. Brian Dusho is a really nice guy and has done an EXCEPTIONALLY fantastic job leading BroadSign since their Chapter 11. He has helped them become profitable and win new business but influential? Umm, I don’t think so. Actually he has been quiet of late and if BroadSign’s haphazard attempts at marketing (show selection especially) and the stupidest screenie thing we have ever seen) is anything to go by he may well just have taken his eye off the ball a little too much lately.
- Chris Gibbs. Super nice guy, has built a great business and has stuck his neck out and taken a leadership position on a number of matters (the formation of the Digital Signage Federation is the one that will most come to peoples’ minds). DSE is a great show, probably the best in the world and definitely the largest dedicated industry show. There’s not much bad you can say about Chris and he has influence because of his leadership position in the show space.
- David Levin. Arrogant chap but super clever and has built up one of the best businesses in our space. Influential how exactly? Folks will copy his business model if they are sensible but here’s why none of the industry software CEOs should be on an influencer list. A good or even great business (in the case of Four Winds Interactive) does not have anything to do with influence. If you were to go down the route of who were the most influential software CEOs you’d have a different list with different criteria: (1) Chris Riegel’s STRATACACHE business turns over more money than any software company in our space and he has built the business form the ground up with no outside investment. He also sits on a pile of cash which he invests back in the industry. That to my mind makes him influential. (2) from a readership perspective you would have to look at Real Digital Media’s Ken Goldberg who actually shares his industry experience via his blog and has several thousand readers and (3) the aforementioned Andreas Souptonuts who, it seems, is intent on innovating and influencing. David is a really great businessman but we wouldn’t categorise him as having any influence in the industry per se.
- Garry McGuire. Garry should be top of this list but he would be the first to admit that his own influencers should be above him still! Spend any time with Garry and you would know that he looks up to the likes of François de Gaspé Beaubien – both of these ‘leaders’ should be top of any influencer list.
- Tom Nix / Peter Cherna. Scala got two nominations hence the list is 11, not ten but we don’t get that at all. Mousey, quiet Peter Cherna who is revered in Scala social circles with God-like technical status is hardly a rabble rousing industry influence. Tom Nix is another really nice guy and is slowly setting Scala on a course which he thinks will make it more successful, but he has his detractors in his own channel and is hampered by being unable to announce any of the big wins they have been having recently in retail and corporate communications (two areas where Scala of course excel). Both Tom and Peter would probably be the first to admit that they lack industry influence and would both probably just like to be left alone to turn around the ailing ship that was once Scala.
Bottom line, this list is fundamentally flawed and whilst it wouldn’t be a particularly exciting industry if we all agreed on everything, I do feel that Christopher Hall and DigitalSignageToday have done the industry a disservice by publishing what is, quite simply, an ill-conceived and poorly thought out list of random names*.
†‘Clowns’ too strong?. An unrecognised ‘body’ with no right to formally award a degree, gives an ‘honorary doctorate’ to a consultant. Go figure.
††Issues that need thought leadership and deeper analysis include; the patent issue(s), Samsung’s back-door, why start-ups keep re-inventing the wheel, lack of good content (and how to produce great content) etc.
*So, who might be on a proper list of industry influencers? In no particular order; Mark Boidman, The Mighty Phil Cohen, Garry McGuire, Steve Nesbit, Andreas Soupliotis, François de Gaspé Beaubien, Arsenal Media’s Denys Lavigne, Posterscope’s James Davies, Simon Sugar etc.