5 min read

Let's Talk Digital Signage Podcast by Kitcast: Robert Terakedis, VMware

Written by
Pavlo Fedykovych
Published on
December 30, 2021
May 29, 2024

In this episode of Let’s Talk Digital Signage Podcast by Kitcast our guest is Robert Terakedis, the Senior Technical Marketing Architect at VMware. It is a part of a series of interviews with digital signage market players who are sharing their pains, gains and hopes for 2021-2022. It is destined for digital signage professionals, enthusiasts and everyone who’s interested in the current state of the industry. COVID-19 has changed the way business is done, and the digital signage industry has felt that first-hand. We are trying to find ways to minimize the negative impact of the pandemic and turn to experts for advice and professional tips.

As a Senior Marketing Architect at VMware, Robert Terakedis is an insider and can share valuable experience based on years of expertise in the field of cloud computing and virtualization. This and its correlation with digital signage were the topics of our conversation for the podcast. Robert talked about the technology trends for 2022, the various problems and pains the industry is facing at the moment, listed out exciting new projects that should be followed closely and provided lots of great advice. Also, the Apple TV was touched upon including its advantages in the cloud-based solutions space. Here are the topics that were discussed during the podcast chronologically: 

  • The everyday routine to keep healthy during a pandemic
  • What were the positive changes in businesses and organizations in 2021?
  • Remote work and its interrelationship with digital signage technology
  • Three tips for businesses to consider when turning to display technology
  • Future trends of the industry for 2022 and further
  • The advantages of screens as a communication tool
  • Misconceptions and stereotypes
  • New cool projects to watch

Transcript of the podcast

Artem Risukhin [00:00:02] Hi, my name is Artem. You're listening to the new podcast series by Kitcast called “Let’s Talk Digital Signage”.

Digital signage is not the only market hit by the pandemic, but it's one of those that will see a great transformation during and after the COVID-19. While there are positive signals on the market, more than ever we need consolidation, transparency and support. For this reason, we're launching a series of interviews with digital signage market players who will share the pains, gains and hopes for 2021 and 2022. 

Today's guest is Robert Terakedis is the senior tech marketing architect at VMware. Hi, Robert.  

Robert Terakedis [00:00:40] Hey, how are you doing today?

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A [00:00:41] Yeah, doing great. Doing great. Awesome. So before we start, um, could you please share maybe some daily routine you do to stay in a great mood and be inspired for the whole day in these challenging times, your everyday routine to stay healthy and wealthy? 

R [00:01:02] I have two young kids that keep me on my toes all the time, so I guess you could say my routine is the fact that I don't have a routine. 

I think they keep me feeling young with their curiosity and their eagerness to learn new things, which, you know, I kind of myself always have been somebody who wanted to try new things and learn new things as well. But I think they help, you know, they force you to learn it well, because in order to explain it to somebody that young, you have to really be able to distill it to the most simplest terms you can. 

So, I’ve taken another guilty pleasure from the pandemic perspective. I’ve become an adult fan of Lego. You know, I had time on my hands, an office with bare walls in my house and nothing going on. And so I was like, OK, let's go with a Star Wars theme, right? And so, yeah, that's all I got, like an entire collection of Star Wars-related Lego sets. And so I've been kind of building one of those here, every once in a while in my spare time.

A [00:02:24] Of the Millennium Falcon.

R [00:02:28] I can't bring myself to spend $800 on the Lego set and haven’t gotten to that point yet. That doesn't mean I'm not an adult buyer here. I've done their AT&T or the Baby Yoda. The ship from The Mandalorian, the razor crest. So next is the Nintendo set because I convinced my wife that it would be fun to do.

A [00:03:15] Yeah, it definitely is. So you have everything that's cool. 

R [00:03:22] Definitely. 

A [00:03:23] Okay, as we discussed all the Lego stuff, let’s get back to digital signage. When you get back to the business, what changes in the business projects or the digital signage projects you notice that gave the most noticeable positive results in 2020? And which changes did you take into 2021? 

R [00:03:53] You know, I think from the perspective of digital signage, a lot of what I've been seeing and I think maybe for a little bit of a background, I see a very focused portion of the market in my role. So in my role as a technical marketer within VMware, you know, my role is within the entity computing organization and my focus is on anything and everything Apple. So Android and Google, like not really in my purview, don't really focus too much on that. Windows, not really focused on that. So again, it's more the focus on that Apple perspective. 

2020 is all about the fact that folks were basically told they had to leave the office. You know, I think there were cases where folks couldn't get back into the office and wanted to get their equipment, and so they were relying on equipment at home. There were folks that were constrained by the ability to buy new equipment because of supply chain issues, which had them looking at kind of maybe a nontraditional set up than what they would have been accustomed to. So, you know, you basically have a traditional window shop that is now looking at, OK, well, I'm having a hard time getting one Windows 10 PCs and laptops to facilitate getting all these people to work. So maybe now let's start taking a look at Mac and what can we do with Mac? And you know, I think that door has led a lot into people focusing more on what we can do with iPads and Macs in an enterprise organization. And granted, that started from kind of the perspective of what can they do at home? But, you know, now that we're looking at businesses are starting to look at opening up. They're looking at bringing people back to the office, maybe not full time, but at least part of the time to at least allow people moments of a face-to-face activity that folks are looking at. You know, how can we facilitate that, right? 

So I think with that has been an uptick from at least that Apple ecosystem of how can I give somebody the best experience around having these Apple devices? And part of that lends to Apple TV and tvOS. And so, you know, kind of my initial introduction into Kitcast and what you guys are doing was really around the Apple TV and kind of being able to use that device. As a digital sign with potentially the opportunity to use that, it also looks like a conference room presentation scenario. So you have these devices that you're going to allow people to broadcast to and they can do that wirelessly, right? So that kind of facilitates the person who's not used to being in the office can show up and get access to present on these devices without having to worry about “Did I pack the right dongle?”, “Is it VGA or HDMI?” 

You eliminate all of that because it's all wireless over the network, but then you have these TVs with these Apple TV devices attached to them, that for a good part of the day are probably just sitting there not doing anything, and then you have the ability to turn them into digital signage so that as people are walking by and they see the conference room that they can kind of get that quick momentary message or whatever you want them to see that I think it's as an organization it can help you build kind of awareness of what's going on in the organization, awareness of what's going on and kind of current state with the pandemic. And, you know, it just gives you more opportunity to get in front of the people that you have coming into the office.  

A [00:07:55] Yeah, most definitely. And as they're coming back to the office, more and more people come back to the office to think that there will be a drastic change in this level of communication through digital signage than it was when everyone was on remote?

R [00:08:13] Yeah, I think so. I mean. I think, you know, with everybody being at home, everybody's kind of already overwhelmed and stressed, you know, and so I think email can potentially be overwhelming or get buried because a lot of that communication that used to have face to face has moved into an electronic format. So that information is either email or Slack, or it's Teams or it's whatever. But I think you need to find as an organization a way to kind of break through that and get in front of people to let them know what the important things are, right? 

So I see digital signage as a way that you can kind of initiate that in the fly by as people are walking through your building. Within VMware we have a product that we sell that also does some messaging as well. I think it's not just like the one piece that's going to get everybody. I think you're going to have to go multiple routes. But the traditional route where you send everybody the mass email that says “Hey, what's going on?” is lost in the shuffle nowadays. And I think you need to find ways outside of that in order to keep your folks engaged with what's going on. 

A [00:09:29] For those considering digital signage for the businesses and this year and the next year, what would be three tips to consider? 

R [00:09:41] Yeah, well, you know, I think one when I was thinking about this just from the perspective and the kind of the way that I got in touch with Kitcast was writing an article about doing digital signage for tvOS. And so I think one of the things that drew me to the capabilities of what you can do with Kitcast was you guys have already kind of thought ahead about how to make these digital signage or digital signage apps manageable. So I think kind of step one is you need to find a digital signage platform that's very easy to churn out, right? So you want to be able to deploy it easily when it breaks, you want to be able to redeploy it easily. And you really want to use off the shelf harbor that's easy to find. The nice part about tvOS devices is that they are relatively easy to come by, right? You don't have to worry too much about where to find them. The trick to tvOS is that if you want to be able to make them easy to provision, you want to be able to  buy them through your enterprise accounts so that they're part of Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager, depending on what kind of organization you are. But being able to do that, I mean, they have the ability to basically plug them in and give them Ethernet, and then they prevision themselves. So it's really a hands off flow. You don't have to worry too much about, you know, the time and energy it's going to take to turn that device into a digital sign. 

The second part of that is finding where you can work with it makes that software easy to manage. And so Kitcast from the perspective of your app in the App Store. It's available to be updated from the App Store. The nice part about it being in the App Store is that because it's in the App Store, it can be cashed in Apple cashing services on a Mac OS that you put in your network, right? So. If you have a lot of these devices, you don't have all these devices reaching out to the broader internet, downloading these apps as well. They can get them from that internal caching server. So this kind of the ability to easily deploy the app that you're using for digital signage, that's kind of the second tip. 

And then the third tip is the fact that these digital signage devices, because they're more off the shelf hardware, you can manage them with a unified endpoint management provider. But my point is that once you've got the device out in the wild, you can still keep a pulse on it in the same console that you're using to manage all of your other devices that you have some of the laptops to deploy, the mobile devices that you deploy, all of those to show up in one place. And by doing that off the shelf hardware solution versus something that's proprietary and using custom hardware, you've got two separate places to manage all of that. I think it gives you a better way to manage that hardware from the get go. 

A [00:12:57] They've got like a whole ecosystem. 

R [00:12:59] Yeah, exactly. 

A [00:13:01] What do you think are the main trends that will dominate the second half of 2021 and possibly the next year? 

R [00:13:11] I think it goes back to what I was saying earlier is you're going to be bringing people back into the office. From what I've been reading and the people that I've been talking to, that a lot of those office spaces are going to be less about having an individual office space where you go to and you work from every day. And a lot of those office spaces are going to be kind of transforming into meeting places. So a lot of us are going to be either one hundred percent work from home or hybrid work from home scenario so that when we do come into the office, we're really there, not necessarily to work in the office and have our little cubicle that we're going to work out. We're there to meet with other people and meeting rooms are going to be a much bigger presence now. 

So even within VMware, we are in some of our spaces re-architecting to be more collaborative and less individualized. So it's really about having these devices that are going to be there, that are going to give people messages that you need them to see as they're walking by, as they're coming into the building or as they're getting to a conference room and setting up. But then you've got these messages that are sitting in front of them before they actually start their presentation and start working on that collaboration. So that gives you that micro moment where you can interact with them and message them before they really kind of sit down and start digging deep into their work. It’s great that you will have that method to bring and bubble up that important stuff above all the noise, and it's going to be critical going forward.  

A [00:15:12] Yeah, and just as we were saying that about some people coming to the office, it looks like there are going to be like two offices. I mean, when everyone was remote, it just sort of moved to separate locations, but it was centralized anyway. But now, when some people come into the office, some people are staying at home and remote, it looks like it gets more scattered. And it really needs some sort of a new way of communication. More efficient, I presume. 

R [00:15:51] Exactly. Yeah. More efficient and really more catered to what I'd call it, the drive-by-like service. Basically like the signage that you're seeing as you're walking through the building, walking through the halls. And especially with the Apple TVs. You just need power and network cable. And that's it. Network cable is even sort of optional. If you're going to run them off Wi-Fi, you just need a network to get them set up initially. So then you set it up initially and then you mount a TV on the wall. 

So you have a lot of options as to how you want to set it up, but that compact package is going to let you be able to put them anywhere. And honestly, TVs nowadays have gotten so relatively cheap. It’s so easy to put those pretty much anywhere in your office building. Yeah, not a huge undertaking. I mean, it's a cost, right? And you've got to rationalize that out, but it's become more affordable for you to do this. 

And even from the perspective of smaller organizations. You would think of digital signage as something that was like big enterprises always had it. You would walk into a massive office building and you would see the signs on the walls and the welcome so-and-so from such and such company. All of the personalization. But now you as a small business can afford this. This is not a huge undertaking that requires massive amounts of licensing and massive amounts of hardware and custom hardware and all these other craziness. This is something that anybody can basically get into now. 

A [00:17:37] Yeah, that's one of the biggest misconceptions I think about digital signage is that it's expensive, it's complicated, it's for just grand projects, whatever. And big companies. What are the other misconceptions that you've probably heard that you encountered regarding digital signage? 

R [00:17:59] Misconceptions. I don't know that it's necessarily a misconception, but I think we've gotten to the point where everybody has really realized the value of what you can do with digital signage. I think a lot of people think digital signage is the electronic menu that you see on the TV or the sign that you see in the lobby. And it can be so much more than that. 

So I've already alluded to the conference rooms and being able to do messaging there. But then it's also dashboards. So if you have any kind of manufacturing or retail or anything where there's some type of process that's happening regularly, where you are tracking metrics. Those metrics can get turned around and put into some type of an app that's going to display those and make those available for you. So you don't have to be the one person in the room who's waiting on a report to automatically run at the end of the day. Like those results can actually be turned into live data that people can see front and center. That gets kind of lost on a lot of folks that there's the ability where you can take the signage and make it so much more. 

And so I would encourage everybody that if there's a place where you think people need to see kind of a real time stance of what's happening like that is an opportunity for a digital sign. 

A [00:19:36] It's very versatile. And there are so many applications where you can use digital signage. To communicate, to convey in a message. What are the most exciting and new applications of digital signage, or maybe projects that you've seen this year or last year that inspired you or brought a spark. 

R [00:20:04] I don't know that I can talk about them because of NDA. 

A [00:20:09] We get that a lot. 

R [00:20:09] Yeah, yeah, I know like there's been a few, but I don't know how much I can divulge on them. Safe to say, one of the ones that I thought was exciting was right along the lines of that digital dashboard. You know, really pumping data from a process, making it very easy for somebody to see kind of what the current state of that process is. 

And then I really just think about the whole concept of the conference rooms. It’s personal. I honestly hate going into conference rooms and then fighting over the box in the center of the table that has all the wires coming out of it. The box is working and then somebody kicks the power cord and unplugs it accidentally. Now it's not working. Do I have the right dongle like this for an HDMI? I mean, luckily, nowadays everybody has moved to HDMI. But it used to be a VGA. Was it DVI or was it HDMI? Like, what's going on here? 

There is a lot of confusion with plugs and cables today. It shouldn’t be this way, it should be easy and digital signage has the power to do that. 

A [00:22:01] Yeah, it’s that easy? It's become that easy. 

R [00:22:02] Yeah, exactly. It's so basic. But again, it's so basic and so annoying. When you have the opportunity to have this better experience, you're just like “Oh man, like, why did we wait so long to do this?” 

A [00:22:28] On the contrary, I think that those things are really the most exciting. I mean, if you can facilitate something, if you can make a piece of very high tech or a piece of chain that is over complicated and make it simple, easy-to-use and hassle free, then that's the point. That's the whole point of digital signage. 

Thank you so much. That's probably it from my side, and thanks for listening. It was a Kitcast podcast “Let's Talk Digital Signage”. My guest was Robert Terakedis, senior tech marketing architect at VMware. Thank you so much, Robert.

R [00:23:10] Thank you.


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