Nick Johnson, NowSignage

The 16:9 PODCAST IS SPONSORED BY SCREENFEED – DIGITAL SIGNAGE CONTENT When I asked an industry friend, whose opinions I respect and trust quite a bit, what CMS software he'd looked at and been impressed by, he rattled off a few companies I was expecting to hear about, but also mentioned the platform developed and marketed by a smallish UK company called NowSignage. He'd seen a lot of different options, but these guys he said, had something that was very modern and nimble. I finally got my act together and scheduled a chat with founder Nick Johnson. Now's roots are in pushing social media messaging to big screens at live events - like concerts and big games. Requests started evolving, both in terms of what could be done with screens and how long they'd be used - which led in part to him concluding the future business was in permanent installations and revenue that was recurring and predictable, versus periodic. Now markets its product as being affordable and not focused on a particular market segment, like QSR, workplace or whatever. That generalist approach tends to worry me, because buyer decisions tend to get focused on price, as in who costs the least. But in my chat with Johnson, he explains that their market focus is on what he calls multi-screen management - networks with a lot of locations and a lot of screens. Most companies would also say they want that and do that, but as Johnson explains in our chat, that's easy to talk about, but much harder to do well. I also had to ask about the Frankenstein'd Rolls-Royce that was the eye candy for the NowSignage stand at ISE in Barcelona. Subscribe from wherever you pick up new podcasts. TRANSCRIPT Nick, thank you for joining me. I know NowSignage reasonably well. I suspect a lot of other people do as well, but could you maybe just give me a rundown on the background of the company, what it is you do, what's distinct, that sort of thing?  Nick Johnson: Yeah, sure. Cheers for having me on, Dave. And, yeah, nice to be here. Yeah, so NowSignage, for those who don't know who we are, is a UK-based business that has been around since 2013. A lot of people thought we launched a market and were in a big whirlwind storm about six years ago, but actually, the tech has been being developed since 2013 now, and then we really honed in on the permanent signage market around seven or eight years ago, really. In terms of signage, we position ourselves as a multi-screen management platform that allows our users to effectively and efficiently manage large networks of screens. So, we don't really focus on a specific vertical specialism. So, with IE, we're not a specific sector, like a corporate sector outright or anything like that. Our specialism is really around meeting the needs and demands of projects that have multiple screens, often in multiple locations or multiple sites, so those large-volume projects are our specialism.  Now, I would imagine most software companies would say: we can fully support large enterprise level, big footprint projects across multiple locations and all that, so that doesn't immediately hit me as a distinction, but I'm guessing you're going to tell me that it's easier said than done?  Nick Johnson: Exactly. So normally, as you say, with CMSs, and we found it ourselves in the early days, we had an eye on those bigger projects, but in reality, as soon as it got above 50 screens, that becomes a challenge for a CMS. It's got a different thought process that needs to go into the CMS from an intuitive nature, but also, your platform needs to be built to kind of balance those enterprise features alongside the simplicity, flexibility, and scalability of the platform.  So yeah, there are some nuances that, for sure, where if you want to manage those large scale projects, you really need to nail the ability to make it as easy as possible for those end users to target specific screens with specific promotions or specific content and that's quite a powerful and hard

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This podcast is the audio extension of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that’s been documenting the growth and filtering the BS of the digital signage industry since 2006.