Reflections on the Retail Technology Show
Content, Logic and Satisfied Customers
Interview with Nikk Smith of Pixel Inspiration Ltd.
Nikk Smith, Managing Director of Pixel Inspiration Ltd., a key partner of Scala, answers questions on the projects that make him proud, the future of digital signage for customer communications and why Scala is Pixel’s chosen platform.
I really appreciate the variety. Each one of our projects is different, which can be an unusual thing working in the tech realm. Coming from a background in web development, where, regardless of the brand or project, you’re working with a limited number of variables, the opportunities for on-premises technology feels limitless, and that is exciting. I also love seeing the fruits of our labours. We often start working with brands at the conception and design phase, so seeing the finished result, how the solution works on site, and the impact it has on visitors and service is very satisfying.
The most significant change I have seen has been the acceptance and expectation of using digital technology on-premises. We used to explain what solutions were available and the value of technology to brands whereas now brands understand. The pull is from the market that accepts digital as an integral part of the marketing mix. Businesses have gone from “Let’s try this” to “Let’s create a great digital experience that forms a key part of the customer journey.”
The platform’s flexibility is essential for us to create the award-winning projects that we do. At Pixel, we have digital signage experience, the content and logic, the rules and the integration necessary to make a project work (and work well) and Scala is our chosen platform. Scala isn’t out of the box, but it gives you the necessary tools to create something exceptional.
After eight years, I think the Argos project still stands up as one of the best implementations of a rules-based CMS and signage system. Delivered through Scala and designed by us, the system accesses thousands of items to ensure customers’ most relevant and convenient experience. In addition, it is a well thought out and robust system that has been expanded to several thousand displays since its initial installation.
As for a spectacular project, the WHSmith facias are very impressive and have probably set the scene for a variety of corporate and retail projects which have come since.
In general though, I am most proud that we have won and retained clients for over ten years. That shows the skill we have across the team to listen to brands and work with them to provide digital solutions that work for the long haul.
I believe in the natural development of technology – slow organic changes informed by past projects while being driven by client and customer demand. With digital, it is more of an evolution than a revolution as more brands across different sectors start to integrate digital or upgrade and expand what they already have in place. For example , there is a noticeable shift from LCD to LED due to the greater creative possibilities available with LED. We’re also seeing more brands incorporate projection alongside digital screens. The award-winning install at Lloyds Bank Manchester Flagship is an excellent example of what can be achieved when businesses use various technologies to tell their brand story.
It is a bit of a generalization, but brand digital projects tend to be driven by marketing or creative directors and, as such, are led by visuals or experience rather than considering the background rules or logic. There is a real opportunity for businesses to link touchpoints to offer customers a more convenient and personalized service while also giving companies more data to inform future strategies. By considering operations and customer experience, businesses can use digital to create a world-beating offering. I do see things moving in this direction as brands become more aware of what digital to do, and we’re here to help them with that.
Business-wise last year was a fantastic one for us so I’m hoping for more of the same. In terms of personal resolutions, I’d like to make the time to focus on the things that I enjoy such as messing around with the cars and motorbike.
Part of the company since its inception in 2004, Nikk Smith has been Managing Director of Pixel Inspiration Ltd. since the 2017 acquisition by retail logistics operator, Staci. Driven by passion for the creative appalachian of digital technologies, Nikk has 25 years of commercial digital media experience spanning fixed format, online and out of the home.
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