Applying Customer Insights to Stores
Scala Enterprise 12.60 and What Lies Ahead
Q&A with Rob Aita
Scala released the newest version of our flagship digital signage platform, Scala Enterprise 12.60. We asked Scala’s Director of Product Management, Rob Aita, a few questions about enhancements, strategy, what’s ahead and generally what it’s like to be super awesome.
RA: We listened to the feedback from our customer base and realized that we needed to be more predictive when it comes to our software release schedule. Beginning this year, we committed to twice-annual releases — with availability in spring and fall of every year. I’m proud of our Engineering team who successfully executed upon this new cadence by releasing Scala Enterprise 12.50 and 12.60 in 2021. With these two smaller releases each year spaced closer together, we are able to be quicker to market with significant enhancements and features, all of which are key to making advanced digital signage projects successful. The feedback to this new approach has been overwhelmingly positive, and I’m excited to see how we can improve upon it in 2022.
To make this commitment to a steady cadence of releases possible, we’ve invested in adding resources to ensure we meet our software release goals. We’re hitting our release goals while ensuring the features and enhancements are tightly aligned with our clients’ needs.
RA: We’re a full digital solution provider. As our offering changes, we map out features that will support additions to the scope of our offering. For instance, we’ve added support for commercial grade LINQ all-in-one tablets in a wide range of sizes, and most recently added support for digital shelf edge displays. This means our clients can confidently deploy these devices in any high-volume environment such as retail digital signage, quick service restaurants, banking, transportation, grocery and more.
As part of long term planning, we talk to our business development teams, sales teams and partners, as well as our clients to lean into what’s top of mind. This can include things like media player and network health, content management system enhancements and display content design functionality. Additionally, we provide and support hardware and digital signage systems for major global brands, and we’ve invested in the resources to support hot fixes and feature requests that level up their projects between these major releases.
RA: Our users are going to see improvement in the ability to operate digital signage networks at scale. Customers have been asking for more visibility into the health of their players so they can proactively resolve any issues in their deployment. The introduction of the Player Status Rollup is an important step toward providing this intelligence. A user is now presented with a color-coded chart that shows the various states of their players. From here, the user can then easily drill down to a dynamically filtered list showing more information about the players in that specific state. Identifying and troubleshooting player issues will be much more efficient beginning in 12.60. This is just our first step toward iteratively improving network health visibility with each release.
Improving the overall performance of our platform is always top of mind with each release. In an effort to speed up page load times for customers with a large amount of media items, we’ve introduced a Cleanup Assistant. With this tool, the user can now easily move these files to a dedicated “Archived” folder where they will be stored and no longer used in playlists. These files can also be easily unarchived if the user wishes to utilize them in the future. A good use case would be seasonal assets like those used around Thanksgiving. They are only applicable during that time of year. With regular use of this tool, only those media items that are most important will be presented, allowing for this critical area of CM to load much quicker.
In tandem, with the introduction of our shelf edge hardware, we’ve developed a new provisioning process that will drastically reduce the time of installation. The installer can now utilize their phone or laptop to temporarily connect to the shelf edge display and utilize a modern interface to modify the necessary configuration items. Once complete, these settings are sent to the shelf edge, at which point it reboots and connects to CM for further pairing. The entire process takes just a few minutes and is easily repeatable if more than one unit needs to be configured at the site. We are introducing this new enhanced commissioning process with the shelf edge and will have it available for all of our players in the coming releases.
RA: It’s an understatement to say there has been a shifting landscape of needs. Digital signage has always been an effective tool for increasing sales and informing consumers, but now there are factors such as safety and back of house efficiency where smart digital signage plays an important role.
So, strategically at the highest level, we’re keeping an eye on where there are big opportunities for digital signage systems to have a positive impact for businesses — some of the biggest areas of impact are on customer experience, retail digital signage, store and restaurant efficiency, solving labor challenges, as well as personalization of digital display content messaging and marketing.
Retail digital signage and marketing technology will be an interesting and exciting area in the coming year and beyond. The benefits of digital signs in and around stores has long been proven. Shoppers are better informed and sales increase. But retailers are realizing that digital signs help drive loyalty, and our platform focuses on enabling creativity and scale with deploying digital solutions.
As experiential retail shopping becomes more and more expected by today’s shoppers, brands are stepping up their in-store digital game. For hardware, things like in-aisle displays, large format video walls, shelf edge displays and end cap displays are drawing attention and influencing at the point of decision. Personalized shopping experiences — where customers are empowered to do their own product discovery, or they are seeing hyper-relevant information — drives repeat visits. The plans for our digital signage platform will ensure that features and functionality can fully support not only small POCs of these projects, but also deployment at scale.
RA: Well, I really don’t know any other way. It’s kind of like when you ask someone that was born blind what it’s like to be blind. They don’t know what it is to have vision, so they can’t really answer that question. Given my good looks and infectious personality, I’ve been told more than once that I’m the whole package - half man, half amazing. I just do my best to remain humble.
Rob shared his thoughts on the future of digital signage in a blog post early last year, Changing Spaces: Suggestions, Signage and Sales for the Future. Stay tuned for Rob’s 2022 insights early next year!
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