By most accounts, the digital signage industry is booming as new technologies provide reduced costs and increased capabilities, and new vertical markets for digital displays open up. And Exton-based Scala, a leading player on the software side of the business, had a huge presence at Digital Signage Expo 2012 in Las Vegas earlier this month and made significant new product announcements.
One announcement was the release of Scala's Leading Indicators CxO Board, a digital dashboard designed for enterprise managers to track key organizational metrics, in real time when such data are available. Although CxO Board is said by the company to be available for numerous CRM/ERP platforms, the only one that Scala specifically mentions right now is Salesforce.com. I asked Scala CEO Tom Nix in a phone interview if Scala had any specific relationship with Salesforce on the CXO Board product, and he declined comment on that.
CxO Board consists of three software components: CxO Designer, which enables displays to be built from a series of dashboards created using graphical widgets; CxO Data Connector, which automatically connects customer data from Salesforce.com and other sources to the widgets for display; and CxO Player, which manages display of the complete presentation of widgets on a network of digital signage displays.
CxO Board seems somewhat similar in concept to software being offered by West Chester-based startup Hoopla Software, Inc., which I profiled earlier this year, and is also focused intially on the Salesforce user base. Hoopla, however, is very specifically geared towards goal measurement and motivation for sales and customer service teams, while Scala's language implies that CxO Board is targeted towards higher level executives.
I asked Nix what Scala's go to market strategy would be for what appears to be essentially a new channel for it. But he disputed that premise, saying that Scala is well established in the enterprise market and already has been involved in some CxO Board-like installations, and that what it is doing now is creating a formalized product architecture for that application.
In Las Vegas, Scala also introduced Scala Advanced Analytics, a cloud computing-based predictive analytics application for retailers. Scala says Scala Advanced Analytics "transforms market data and live third-party data streams into marketing messages that positively impact buying behavior". It can analyze massive amounts of data to determine what specific messages to deliver at specific times to shoppers via digital displays, based on predictive analytics-based projections for otimizing store performace or achieving other important goals. Scala says its Advanced Analytics offering is best suited for multi-site retailers with large numbers of SKU’s and point-of-sale data.
Scala does have a partner on the predictive modeling side, though Nix declined to identify who it was. He did say it was a proven application that had been around for a while. Although the SaaS solution is off the shelf, data customization can take considerable effort within an organization.
Scala also announced the release of a new version of it flagship digital signage software (Scala 5, Release 6). The new version is said to offer significant visual enhancements, better dynamic content management, new video and streaming options, and improved IT management capabilities.
More new product announcements are reported to be in the pipeline at Scala.
When asked how the first quarter was going for Scala, Nix said growth was probably stronger than it had ever been. Retail and Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) were probably the fastest growing market segments. Europe was holding up fairly well, he said (something I've heard from others recently), and Asia remains an enormous opportunity.
While Scala faces considerable competition on the software side and has its own challenges, it is in an envious strategic position. There is a crush of hardware vendors trying to get their products to customers, and Scala has leverage since it has a stable, proven software platform and the channel partners to reach them.
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