Turning heads with digital signage

On Friday 4 October, I had the honour of MCing the 2013 NGAGEMENT Digital Signage Summit  at The Cloud, on Auckland’s waterfront. It was a fantastic event hosted by digital signage specialists ngageMedia, and attended by around 250 CMOs and CEOs from many sectors including retail, banking and advertising.The focus was on promoting and developing the digital signage ecosystem and talking about the latest in digital signage, retail innovation, NFC (near field communication) and mobile integration.

ngage Media is a member of ng Connect and it’s a great example of a company using these technologies and exporting its expertise into Australia via cloud architecture. From servers in New Zealand, ngage is currently delivering all the digital retail signage into major Australian retail chains. It’s lightweight export like this that’s enabling Kiwi companies to generate solid offshore earnings – and with the right infrastructure in place, it’ll certainly be the way of the future.

The ng Connect program showcased some of the service concepts built by the global membership of companies. The need for the programme here was clearly borne out by the level of interest from New Zealand companies in the applications it has produced. Collaboration doesn’t seem to be a strength of New Zealand companies, so if we can improve that aspect of business here and accelerate the go-to-market for new innovations, the ng Connect program will have made a difference to New Zealand.

The keynote speakers at NGAGEMENT were all experts in their fields: Mike Hutcheson, executive director of Image Centre Group, and with a wealth of experience in advertising and understanding what makes people tick, talked about content and why it’s still king espcially in digital media

Wayne Simeon, national sales manager of Coca-Cola Amatil is something of an FMCG guru who was recently charged with reinvigorating Coke’s vending business using innovative technology. Wayne shared his insights on QuickTap – a new world of unattended retailing.

Geri Ellis, GM of digital and social media at Vodafone NZ is an early digital pioneer and she talked about blurring the lines between online and offline to increase retail engagement.

Brett O’Riley, CEO of ATEED and the founding CEO of the NZ Industry Technology Association (formerly NZICT), which comprises New Zealand’s leading information and communications technology companies, reinforced the vital role of innovation. Brett put some urgency into the day by telling the room that ATEED is ready to help Auckland companies innovate. He said we shouldn’t spend too much time planning, but instead start to identify some key projects to get behind as an industry. I’m thrilled by this message and will ensure ng Connect can support the development of new services and applications for Auckland.

My colleague and friend Rudy Mazza, Asia Pacific Communications Direct for Alcatel-Lucent’s Global Sales and Marketing, travelled down to Auckland from Shanghai for NGAGEMENT and brought a global perspective to the event. Rudy spoke about the next generation of retail engagement – in essence, the role ultrafast broadband plays in enabling retailers to engage customers through in-store digital signage. He also talked about what’s happening in this space in Shanghai and, in particular, about the crucial role technology and the network play in delivering solutions of this kind.

As MC, I took the opportunity to connect a few companies – all of whom have something to add to developing new services for Auckland and New Zealand. It does amaze me that while Kiwis are widely known for their friendliness, this doesn’t necessarily translate into business collaboration!

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