MediaTile shifting from turnkey to SaaS for digital signage kiosks
At InfoComm this year MediaTile showed off two new models of its HumanKiosk interactive digital signage kiosk built by Sacramento, Calif.-based DFI TECH.
The shift to featuring kiosks built by another firm signaled a sea change in how MediaTile plans to move forward with its 4G-based digital signage solution that enables brand representatives to interact in real time with shoppers in stores.
In a recent interview, Mediatile co-founder and CMO Mike Foster and CEO Simon Wilson said the company is moving away from being a single-source, combined hardware and software solution provider, and toward being solely a software-as-a-service company.
"We've always been known for our cloud, SaaS solutions, but now we're moving away from being a full turnkey solution provider and being much more of a software and networking solution provider," Wilson said.
Instead, Foster said, MediaTile will concentrate on teaming up with the best "roster ecosystem partners" to bring its MediaCast Video Presence system to market. Now the company will let hardware experts like kiosk mainstays Frank Mayer & Assoc. and DFI TECH to build the hardware, while MediaTile focuses on what it does best, he said.
"Where we're much better is software," Foster said.
"Now we are working with partners like DFI TECH and Frank Mayer in terms of really designing and being able to produce in volume very appealing hardware for these specific segments that, frankly, we don't have any business doing as a software company," Wilson said.
The systems demonstrated at InfoComm 2011 in Orlando, Fla., showcased banking and brand/retail use-cases with remote, multilingual "On-Call Experts" located in Ogden, Utah, provided by MarketStar Corp., part of the Omnicom Group Inc. and another MediaTile partner. The new 22-inch and 42-inch portrait-mode systems were custom-designed interactive hardware systems from DFI TECH, based on MediaTile's HUMANKIOSK HDRP (hardware design reference platform). The systems leverage high-bandwidth 4G network services from leading cellular carriers to facilitate live, two-way video for face-to-face conversations between consumers and remote "in-the-cloud" subject matter experts.
Working with hardware and marketing specialist to allow MediaTile to focus on its core competencies is only the beginning, Wilson said, hinting that the company has other partners lined up to play a part in the value chain of bringing HumanKiosk-type deployments to retail and financial institutions.
MediaTile founder Keith Kelsen, now the CEO and Chairman of 5th Screen Corp. and still a stockholder in the company, called the shift a natural progression as hardware manufacturers have begun embracing embedded chipsets and displays with onboard PCs.
"Now the hardware has really caught up," to the cellular approach MediaTile pioneered, he said.
And as wireless carriers begin embracing cellular digital signage, companies will want to work with a company that's "expert at it" already, he said.
"They’ve written tons of code behind making that a reliable connection," he said.
Christopher is the managing director of the Interactive Customer Experience Association and former editor of DigitalSignageToday.com. A longtime freelance writer and reporter, he's bringing a fresh perspective and critical take on the industry.www