5 min read

Let's Talk Digital Signage Podcast by Kitcast: Vincent Encontre, Intuiface

Written by
Pavlo Fedykovych
Published on
December 28, 2021
May 29, 2024

In this edition of Let’s Talk Digital Signage Podcast by Kitcast our guest is Vincent Encontre, COO of Intuiface that offers an audience engagement platform. It is a part of a series of interviews with digital signage professionals who are elaborating on their pains, gains and hopes for 2021-2022. It is made not only for digital signage professionals and enthusiasts, but also for everyone who’s interested in the current state of the industry. The pandemic has been brutal on businesses worldwide and left a negative impact that is extremely hard to brush off. Nevertheless, we persist and collectively look for ways to maximize profits and deliver a better level of service.

We have already talked with Vincent Encontre a while ago, before the pandemic. That’s why it’s even more interesting to hear his thoughts today when the world is a different place and the digital signage industry faces unprecedented pressure and challenges. Intuiface is one of the leaders of the interactive technology segment and their experience is vital to understand how companies can fare against the devastating impact of the COVID-19 restrictions and the overall economic situation in the world. We talked about the ways to do business right now and also discussed the prospects for 2022. Here are the topics that were discussed during the podcast chronologically:

  • How to keep a positive mindset during these hard times?
  • Has there been any change in approach to operations in Intuiface?
  • Market state during COVID-19
  • Delivering a great customer experience through digital signage
  • Challenges companies will face in 2022
  • Professional tips for the future
  • Necessity of engagement
  • The challenges and misconceptions about digital signage
  • New hip signage products to check out

Transcript of the podcast

Artem Risukhin: 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 COVID-19. While there are positive signals on the market, more than ever, do we need consolidation, transparency, and support. For these reasons, we're launching a series of interviews with digital signage market players who will share their pains, gains, and hopes for 2021 through 2022.

Today's guest is Vincent Incontre, CEO at Intuiface.

Vincent Incontre: Hi, Artem.

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A: It's great to have you. And to start with a small icebreaker, could you please tell me, do you have any routine, everyday routine that keeps you in a good mood and ready for business?

V: Well, every morning, I'm receiving how much we have sold in the last 24 hours and that's always putting me in good mood for the day.

A: That's great to hear. Many companies had to adjust to the new realities of 2020 and 2021 with the decrease in demand with all this chaos and some of them had to make changes to their business models into their practices and some of them worked, some didn’t. So, did you see some change? Of course, you had to adjust to this new reality, and which adjustments gave the most positive results? Possibly, you can share these practices with the market.

V: Well, we didn't change anything.

A: So, the model remained the same and…

V: Yeah, exactly the same, exactly the same. We are an independent software vendor. 100% of our revenues are coming from subscriptions from our customers using our platform. We didn't change that. There was no reason during the pandemic for changing this. We had the opportunity also to maybe even increase our R&D output during the pandemic and make sure that because there were all these projects frozen for everybody to make sure that when the pandemic started to slow down, which we expect to be these days, to be in sync with the result of our R&D which is what is going to happen next week with the release of our new major release into Phase 07. So, we took the opportunity of maybe having less customer engagement, I would say, by repurposing some of our resources into R&D. So that's what we did. We didn't change, and we are not going to change our model. We believe in our model, which is a model which is used in many other markets because that's the major model. You have on one side the pure, independent software vendors and on the other side, you have the brands, large customers, or integrators using this platform to do business with. So, that's our model. We don't want to mix and match software selling and services. That's two different businesses, very different businesses and when you do both, usually you don't do any of them in the right way.

A: And can you please tell me more about Intuiface 07? So, what are the major updates that we should be seeing?

V: Well, it's based on again, how we see that the market is going, and indeed even if we have not changed our business model, and we won't change our business due to COVID-19, the market has changed a little bit. What we are seeing is that there is more and more integration with other platforms in the enterprise like CRM, digital asset management, digital experience platforms, all these marketing platforms. So, all these platforms must be integrated right. So that's getting a key requirement for digital signature platforms.

And by doing this requirement in terms of security, we are increasing a lot. And that’s why last year, in fact, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been certified ISO 27001. And there is just one other company in the world which is, in the digital signature world, which is certified ISO 27001, that’s Central. And so, we are very proud of that, and that ISO 27001 is the highest, you know, certification you can get related to IT infrastructure security. So, that’s very important, and we expect the digital signage market, you know, that because of all these digital signage infrastructures now are going to be connected with the rest of the IT infrastructure to require more and more security assessment, and we are very well positioned towards that.  

So, that's one of the trends we have seen. And the other trend we have seen is, that's a paradox, but this has been well documented by analysts such as Invidious or Dave at 16:9, there is a boom in terms of self-serving, self-service kiosks. So, the paradox is that at the beginning of the pandemic, you know, you did not want to touch anything, but it has proven not to be, you know, that an impact on how the COVID-19 spread, and it's much more about human to human when you're spreading the COVID-19. And so, rather than having to talk to a human, even with a mask, there is some value in doing things yourself through a kiosk. And so, the kiosk is becoming more and more important in the digital signage world.

A: And what are the main implications? I'm trying to figure out other than the food industry, so what are the other main applications of those kiosks?

V: Other use cases are like a queueing system. Like a registration when you come into an office, you register yourself. When you are doing some tourism you can browse different attractions of a specific location, you know, very useful in the tourism area. So, all the kinds of things you might have also as an app on your iPhone can now be done on a kiosk. And the question is, now, so who is going to help with building applications for this kiosk? Is that still digital signage or is it not? So, what does it mean then? And that's why we also believe that digital signage is a much larger domain than, you know, playlist scheduling and even signage is kind of an obsolete term, that’s old-fashioned. And in that respect, we at Intuiface as well as some other companies we are starting to use the term you know, digital in-venue. So, in-venue is becoming a term more and more used. And that is a continuum from, you know, very simple digital posters, just push an image or even a video to simply direction like lift and learn and to a kiosk with very sophisticated workflows. So, our market for at least for entry phase is everything digital in-venue. When you are asking most of the CMS platforms out there how they are solving, for example, the self-serving kiosk, they are telling you, well just develop in HTML file. All right. Thank you very much. So, we want to go, and we have been going a little bit further with our no-code platform where we have drag and drops, you can create very complex workflows and that's what we are addressing. So, we are solving that pain of delivering complex experiences everywhere in-venue.

A: And coming back to the security issues because, of course, this is the major trend all over industries, not only digital signage. So what do you think might be the main challenges for the companies next year in terms of security, digital signage-wise? 

V: I mean, there are two challenges. One is on the enterprise IT teams. It is, what should I ask a digital signage provider? Whether it's an ISV or an integrator. So, they have to adapt their questionnaire to, you know, in-venue, so meaning public screen displays. So that's one. And second, all these, you know, digital signature ESVs, CMS vendors, and integrators, need to be equipped to answer this very, very long enterprise IT questionnaires for any RFP they are working on. So, it's very time-consuming, and you must have the right skills to even understand the questions which are asked by these enterprise IT teams. So, you have challenges on both sides but it's even more on the provider side. And that's why having certified our platform ISO 27001 is making things easier so we can skip most of the questions from these questionnaires because we just say, well, here is our certificate, oh, great, thank you very much. You know, by the way, all the big ones like you know, Amazon, and so on are ISO 27001 certified. So, that big challenge is understanding security requirements, each potential issue, and second, being able to have the skills and time, and resources to answer all these security questionnaires the right way.

A: What are the three tips for those companies considering digital signage for their businesses in 2022?

V: Be prepared to be more sophisticated in what you propose to your customers, in what you realize. Again, customers are getting more and more aware of what I would call their user digital engagement possibilities. So, their users, and a user is a client, an employee, a citizen, a visitor, a student, or whatever, these are all synonyms of a user and so as the demand in terms of variety and sophistication around how these customers want to have their user engaged is going to grow. So, the providers on that market, whether it is ISVs or integrator agencies, they need to, I would say, up their game to get a lot more knowledge about all these possibilities, one, and second, the right platform or platforms which can fulfill the needs, the new needs of their customers.

I'm giving you an example. So, we discussed the digital in-venue market, you know, from digital wholesale to a very sophisticated kiosk. We can even go a step further and that's what we're going to offer with Ituiface 07, is what about the web? What about the mobile? How to complement an in-venue use case with the web, with the mobile? For example, what about a museum teasing your exhibition on the web for attracting people to come and to be an in-revenue user? So, what about reusing some of the assets you have developed for your exhibition but on the web? So basically, with Intuiface 07, our users will be able to take an experience they are developing, for example, for a museum, an interactive experience, and put it directly on the web as an iframe in a webpage, for example. Or they will be able to, during an exhibition, to have a specific experience to be automatically downloaded on the visitors’ iPhone for example, mobile phone.

So, it’s customer or user engagement. Customer engagement is even more than seeing what's going on a display, a simple interaction that's also using their own mobile, be it on a website that they can browse on their personal PC or laptop before going to an exhibition or to a show or in the store. So, all these, you know, digital assets are contributing to better engaging with a user once in venue.

A: Yes. And actually, that's very interesting because, of course, we know that most of the customers and any people around the world, they're all on their screens and their mobile phones. So, it's sometimes very hard to get them engaged in screens outside of their comfort zone. And when you build this bridge through their phone or their laptop to the digital signage, digital in-venue, and the venue itself, it's very interesting.

V: Exactly. It's like, you know, a little bit the problems arising now for these movies, adventure movies, which is either to release them in the theaters or to release them on the streaming service at the same time and so on; the experience is not the same and there is a purpose for each. And what we want to provide is a way to extremely or rapidly repurpose assets developed by our platform to the web or mobile as they are purposed for the big screen in in-venue locations.

A: Yeah. It's genius, really, to keep the person engaged and to give them all this continuous engagement.

V: Exactly. But here, then you can see we provide some means which needs to be adopted and used by our customers whether they are brands or integrators. So, that's a never-ending task for us. We have to evangelize all these possibilities to our customers so that they can really take advantage, that they can see more than, hey, I just want to schedule this playlist kind of thing, you know, because that's passé. It's not, again, what their customers are asking for whether explicitly or implicitly because these customers, don't know about yet, but they will know very soon.

A: And how hard is it to evangelize such change?

V: It’s hard. It’s hard because you have to come up with plenty of, you know, examples, use cases, usages which are right on the agency or integrator or customer mind. So, you need to be very specific to the context of the customer. And we are doing that in a way. We are, like, eighteen months ago we have released something called Intrivil, which is a kind of like 3D Sim, actually. I'm old enough for remembering the Sim video game, where you can see that city and where we provide plenty of used cases about how to use digital signage, how to use interactive experience. So, it's on intuiface.com/intrivil, and you get a very nice city picture, and you can click and dig in into the city, you can be in a stadium, in a retail mall, in an enterprise, in the train station, and we show examples of everything which can be done with digital signage.

So, we need to generate IDs for our customers. Do you know you can do that? These are the benefits of doing this, etc., etc. A lot of education has to be done.

A: And in terms of education, I sometimes encounter a lot of misconceptions about digital signage. Some of them being that it's over-complicated for customers. What are the other misperceptions that you face and that you, of course, disagree with?

V: So, from our point of view where we enable our users to do sophisticated things. So, for us, the largest misconception from our point of view is to equal digital signage to scheduling playlists. We discussed that earlier in this interview. Digital signage, again, signage is now an obsolete term, i.e. digital in-venue, and so the main misconception is to have a very narrow view of what is digital in-venue. That's for us what is wrong.

So, it's okay to start with digital postal with signs but that’s just the beginning and with everybody having, you know, smartphones, it can be the end of the story. So, it must be much more sophisticated. And you're right. Our job as a platform maker is to make sure that what we propose to address, these very sophisticated needs, is still simple to put in place. So, it's, again, a lot of discussion about what you can do but also a lot of education about how you can do things with our platform.

And so, last year, we opened what is called the Intuiface Academy. So, I think that's one of the unique academies in the digital signage world explaining, using a lot of very educational videos, how you can use our platform and its different components to do this and that and basically to achieve what we are showing in Intrivil. So, spending resources to explain how to do things especially using videos and a very step-by-step approach, we've added a bit of gamification, which is also very important to help our users understand that this does not have to be complicated.

A: Yeah, I've checked your Intrivil and it's outstanding. It really reminds me of the game The Sims, and I think that this kind of gamification, can help users to visualize for them how that particular digital in-venue can be.

V: Exactly. Yeah.

A: What are the most exciting new applications of digital signage in the past year that you've seen that inspire you? 

V: Well, again, it's the growing importance of kiosks. So that's exciting for us and especially that we have the option to switch. By the way, and I’ll come back to your question, but we have just released also a video showing 02 applications on the new Samsung kiosks. We are one of the first partners for the Samsung kiosk, and we are showing 02 applications side-by-side which are manipulated the same way. It’s a QSR app. And one has been done in manual code in two months of development and another one in Intuiface, which has been built in two days. And there are no differences: no differences in look and feel, no differences in workflow, and no differences in performance. So again, for people who don't want to or don't have the skills to develop an application for a kiosk, we have the right solution.

So, the kiosk is what we see. The other thing we have seen in the last couple of years is the increasing importance of sensors. So, interaction has historically been about touching screens but more and more you can interact with the ESOS information on the screen or with the real world when you're in the room using sensors. So, that's also the main difference in terms of experience between you on your laptop browsing a website and an in-venue experience where more of your senses are put into action, I would say like touching, smelling, and so on, hearing. And so, some of our customers have made some really, you know, experiences which were not only visual or touch-based but that are so reactive to sensors such as proximity sensors or very sophisticated lift and learn with results being on the screen but also on such as lead stripes, very sophisticated lighting with that you can do with Intuiface. So, again, focusing on the total experience and raising audios and so on, depending on the behavior of the user.

So, I would say, total, I don’t know how to say that in English, but sensor experience that you can achieve with the technology which is not that expensive anymore. For example, we're walking around with Netflix here and these guys are doing a great job at also democratizing plenty of different kinds of sensors.

A: Great. Vincent, thank you very much. I think that's it. So, thanks all for listening. It was “Let's Talk Digital Signage” or as Vincent says, digital in-venue. And it was a pleasure having you, and thank you so much for your time.

V: Thank you for having me today. Thank you.


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