We recently sat down with Richard Ventura, the vice president of business development and solutions for Director-level ICX Association member NEC Display Solutions of America, to talk about his company and its involvement with the Association and with ICX technologies.
Ventura is a widely respected expert in the digital signage and visual solutions markets, who – in addition to his duties at NEC Display – is an active speaker at industry events and a leading member of industry associations. He’s seen the marketplace grow and change into what it is today, and helped shape it along the way.
The display or visual solution part of an interactive customer experience solution is usually the most noticeable key element that the customer sees and interacts with – and the display solutions market is constantly evolving and improving its offerings. Ventura offers insights into the future of the technology and its place within the ICX environment, as well as into NEC’s view of the marketplace.
Q: First, can you tell us a bit about your company?
A: NEC Display Solutions of America, Inc., a leading designer and provider of innovative displays, offers the widest range of products on the market, such as commercial- and professional-grade large-screen LCD displays, desktop LCD monitors, direct view LED displays, a diverse line of multimedia and digital cinema projectors, and integrated display solutions. Benefiting from the technologies of NEC Corp. and its own research and development, NEC produces leading-edge visual technology and customer-focused solutions for a wide variety of markets, including education, retail, transportation, broadcast, enterprise, healthcare, houses of worship and many more. NEC is orchestrating a brighter world with the quality and reliability of its products and outstanding customer service.
A: My role within NEC Display is the Vice President of Business Development and Solutions. The team under me is focused on building the future markets and developing key strategies and tactics for the organization.
The team focuses on five key areas:
- Development of vertical market understanding and delivery of key market trends, strategies and tactics.
- Development and managing of key technology partners (mounts, cables, enclosures, digital signage software, etc.) to help deliver solutions and strategies for customers and partners.
- Developing key relationships within vertical markets to target new opportunities.
- Development of simple vertical market focused solutions.
- Focus on new markets and offerings that NEC will deliver one, three and five years from now.
Q: And how did that lead NEC Display to join the ICX Association?
A: NEC joined the organization as a way to better connect with end-users and other manufacturers who are pushing the envelope within the interactive space. The focus as we see it is more on the experiences and the why/how instead of just the who. Also, this is an opportunity for NEC to continue delivering more value to the market by giving back and creating a stronger industry. NEC focuses heavily on the value-add of our products, and by understanding the market needs and trends we are able to deliver more value to the market as a whole.
Q: What has your experience of the Association and/or its Summits been like?
A: NEC has participated in previous Summits and other events associated with ICX. These are a great opportunity to network and listen to real life case examples of how organizations utilize technology and solutions to differentiate their business and solve true customer pain points. The speakers and content are strong and deliver true value.
Q: How do you see the ongoing developments of ever better displays with developments in other interactive technologies converging to create ever better experiences for consumers?
A: Everyone has an interactive screen in their back pocket and with the growth of smartphones, we always have data at our fingertips. Digital displays are naturally moving this way as well. Beyond just interactive kiosks and whiteboards, we are seeing companies focus on new ways of collaboration and true engagement. Today’s consumers want more ways to interact with brands without having to engage with salespeople. They want to be able to build their shopping list, customize products and make purchases on their own. And they want to do all of this from the comfort of a screen; be it on a kiosk, a large format video wall, a projection system, or their mobile devices. Endless aisles are just one example of how retailers are making this happen; consumers are getting their own personal shopping experience and in turn retailers are able to drive more product sales without increasing the size of their brick-and-mortar stores. Interactive technologies are driving this new capability. With this high demand for new shopping experiences, display and software providers must look at how to make engagement stronger, faster and easier for consumers.
Q: How do you see developments in LED screens and projection displays changing the marketplace for video walls and matrices of LCD screens?
A: As we see finer pixel pitch on the LED, we will see a lot of disruption in the traditional LCD video wall space. For example, we are seeing massive lobby installations happening where finer-pitch LED solutions are the product of choice. Companies are always looking at ways to differentiate themselves and deploy amazing, innovative solutions without increasing their budgets. Over the next five to six years we will see a much larger price degradation in the LED space than in the LCD video wall space.
On the other hand, with the introduction and shipment of laser light sources, projection for digital signage is taking a new lease on life. Being able to run for extended periods of time and having over 20,000 hours of laser life, projectors are more feasible than ever before for large-scale installations. In addition, with the growing abilities of projection mapping and special projection films, we are seeing projector installations in places never thought of before, like ice hockey surfaces, in window and outdoor facades of buildings, etc. Interactivity will be the next strong area for projection.
Q: Obviously, a display, projection or LED screen (a visual solution) is only one part of creating an overall interactive experience for consumers, how do you create or build partnerships to provide complete solutions?
The key is being willing to listen, look, feel and ask questions. It is important to identify your own strengths and weaknesses. Knowing who and what you are and are not is instrumental to this. Once identified, do an analysis of who the market leaders are in your areas of weaknesses and reach out to them to figure out how together you are stronger than on your own.
We specifically focus on showcasing how a solution can look and feel for the customer. To do this, it is important to never prescribe before you diagnose the need of the customer. Remember, there is never a one-size-fits-all solution. By working with key technology and solutions partners you will be able to develop a strong understanding of your capabilities and then deliver those the customer.
The last piece we look at is truly understanding the internal/external pressures and paint points for specific vertical markets. Being able to speak at the level of the customer and knowing where all parts (mounts, kiosk, cables, software, etc.) play together helps deliver solutions that directly solve the pain points of each individual customer.
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