Reopening with Total Confidence
Franck Racapé, Vice President, EMEA, Philips Professional Display Solutions, discusses the launch of the company’s new PeopleCount queue management and social distancing solution for retailers, pubs and restaurants with FM Magazine.
Philips Professional Display Solutions has an illustrious history of technological innovation that includes the first ever videowall launched in 1984. Originally established as a subsidiary of Koninklijke Philips N.V., the business has operated under the TPV group of companies – the world’s largest display manufacturer, since 2011 under a trademark licensing agreement. FM Magazine spoke with Franck Racapé, Vice President for the EMEA region, following the announcement of the company’s latest solution which is targeted at customer-facing businesses reopening from Covid-19 lockdown.
What are the main lines of business of Philips Professional Display Solutions?
Philips Professional Display Solutions exclusively markets and sells Philips-branded digital displays, LED solutions and professional TVs, all for the B2B marketplace, worldwide.
These three categories can be segmented into solutions that include single panel digital signage, fully collaborative interactive touchscreens, near seamless LCD videowalls and high impact, seamless LED displays, as well as hospitality, healthcare and corporate professional TVs.
How would you define the company’s work philosophy?
Philips’ mission to improve people’s lives through meaningful innovation and vision to make the world healthier and more sustainable are both constants through everything we do.
At Philips Professional Display Solutions, in a business to business environment, we work to take this further, with the ambition to help build better solutions for our business partners and their customers.
Whatever the industry, in today’s fast paced world, having a real competitive edge is key. We know that, when it comes to digital equipment, the screen is just the beginning. Our displays are designed to make business easier – for our installation partners, for the businesses using our products and for their customers, too.
What customer profile are they targeting? Which sectors have more weight for the division?
Working in the business to business arena, and providing displays across the range of vertical sectors, our audience is incredibly varied. We work with our installation partners to ensure we cater for each of these verticals – including Corporate, Retail, Hospitality, Healthcare, Education, Transportation, Public Venues and more – with a uniquely targeted approach.
At this moment, in particular, we are working to provide solutions to businesses with a need to comply to local regulations and bring their customers and staff confidence that it’s safe to be in their public settings.
From small retailers, bars and restaurants through to supermarkets, cinemas and more, we want to help bring customers back into those bustling environments with total confidence for their safety.
What solutions have you already developed to ensure safer social distancing in public areas?
With governments and health officials across the world recommending social distancing of at least 2 metres, businesses – particularly those with a high footfall – are being urged to implement strict measures around capacity and crowding to help reduce the spread of covid-19.
Designed to fit settings with one or several points of entry, our PeopleCount solutions have been developed in partnership with Bosch Security and Safety Systems to help ensure compliance with government guidelines while, perhaps more importantly, giving customers and staff the confidence to enter and reengage with businesses.
PeopleCount solutions have now been deployed at restaurants like Apteekkari restaurant and bar in Kuopio, Finland, companies like Consum, in Spain, and tested at other major retail chains and telecom providers to provide visibility on the number of people entering and exiting a building, as well as at Point of Sale. Allowing businesses to introduce cost-effective, efficient queue management systems, informing and engaging customers at the same time.
Installed at the building’s entrances, our Philips displays, with their high performing built-in System On Chip (SoC), can be programmed to provide customers and staff with clear information about capacity at any one time, alerting them whether it’s safe or not safe to enter via a simple traffic light system.
Even better, with our Android-based platform integrated on many of our displays, it’s easy to develop and deploy new apps and software, so the features we can offer as part of our PeopleCount range are growing all the time. We are currently working with partners across EMEA to deliver solutions that combine PeopleCount with hand disinfection stations or that can monitor whether customers are wearing masks.
How fast has technology been able to react to the new reality?
The beauty of technology that has been well-designed is that it can then adapt very quickly to changes in market conditions.
As a professional display manufacturer, our business is to deliver safe, meaningful and high-performing solutions as quickly as possible in order to support our customers as they navigate the complexities of market evolution.
This is where, together with the quick reactions of our development teams, the established, easy to work with, secure programming interface of our platform has been key, allowing our software partners to develop and integrate new apps and solutions to bring our customers businesses back to life. Reengaging connections safely and with confidence, post lockdown.
Why is Philips Professional Display Solutions more visible in bringing these types of solutions to market?
As a brand, we always place huge importance on health and wellbeing – both for people and for the environment. Likewise, helping to build and protect our customers’ businesses is a part of our commitment to them. To do this, we listen to our customers and keep a keen eye on market needs to ensure we bring the products to them that really matter.
We are also solutions-led, working with a network of trusted partners to develop new ways of working when market needs arise. That’s where our Android SoC shows its biggest benefits as, when it comes to installing specialist software, such as lift and learn technology for retail, video conferencing for corporate or collaborative learning for education, apps and programs are quick and easy to add and integrate.
I am incredibly proud of our teams who, together with our software partners, and over the course of just a couple of months, have worked tirelessly to deliver state of the art solutions that will allow our customers to embrace the new normal and reboot their businesses out of lockdown.
How important a consideration is price?
In my opinion, all markets are similar. As long as players are able to bring added value to customers and consumers, at the right time, price is one of the factors, but not the main one.
Our PeopleCount capacity management solution is a prime example of this. Working together with our ecosystem of partners and listening to our customers’ needs, we have quickly developed a solution that is easy to integrate and with a low cost of ownership. We believe that employing a security team to count customers in and out of a public setting is not fit for long term practice and technology is there to assist businesses to make best use of their employees’ expertise.
Now, more than ever, our installation partners and the businesses they work with need the support of all manufacturers, in terms of price, service and solutions. We all need to work together to restart industries and boost economies.
Is it possible to continue evolving and innovating in a sector like this?
When it comes to evolving and innovating, our industry perspective is immense and the future looks very exciting. As customers’ expectations and demands increase, so our products evolve and new ranges develop. Always looking a step ahead with the innovations we’re releasing, I’m sure we’ll all see incredible developments in the way we consume sound and vision in years to come, driven by more needs for sustainability and a permanent rethink about how we can lead technology towards a more environmentally-friendly applications.
What challenges do you see into the future?
For this year, at least, we’re all living very much in the moment, and the PeopleCount solutions we’re developing now are, we hope, catering for a relatively short term need. That being said, our longer term strategy remains to keep delivering the most advanced technology solutions in a sustainable and environmentally-caring way. Our product management teams continue to bring exciting new ranges and solutions into reality, now and into the future, that will adapt to the different types of applications required by users.
Together with the teams at Philips Professional Display Solutions, I wish everyone a safe return to business and I encourage key business representatives to think with us about the future and to deliver solutions that will be safer for people and that are more caring for the environment. This is the next big challenge for industry as a whole. And it’s a very exciting one, allowing us to make a positive difference for generations to come.