For the past two years, Digital Signage has attracted a lot of attention. Advantech has been cooperating with BICOM Information Technology, which was responsible for software design and was involved in this technological development in the early stages. In 2012, Advantech officially merged with BICOM, which has made Advantech’s Digital Signage products more competitive.
Integration Leads to Better Opportunities
Vice President of Advantech Intelligent Services R&D Development, Jim Yeh, who was the former General Manager of BICOM, noted that in addition to hardware devices, software functionality is also important for Digital Signage. And since it is a new medium, only a few suppliers can provide software services. So hardware suppliers must have long-term partnerships with software vendors, similar to the cooperation between Advantech and BICOM, who face market challenges together.
After years of cooperation, the two parts of BICOM business – Digital Signage and RFID applications – were merged into Advantech’s Intelligent Services Department at the end of 2012. Jim Yeh said that due to the rapid expansion of the market and more intense competition in Digital Signage, smaller companies with fewer resources have difficulty surviving, and the combination became the best choice for integrating BICOM’s excellent software design team with Advantech’s large-scale enterprise resources, to create a win-win business success.
With the addition of BICOM’s software technology, Advantech’s Intelligent Services Department is now able to provide a complete Digital Signage solution. Jim Yeh explained, “Unlike in the past, providing hardware products alone fails to satisfy customer requirements; now they need a total solution, or even a customized total solution, particularly in the Greater China market.” In this situation, standardized products have trouble fulfilling market demands, and suppliers must have both software and hardware design capabilities to provide suitable products.
Diversified Applications Show Infinite Creativity
According to his analysis, the global demand for Digital Signage is increasing, and in the Greater China region this is even truer. BICOM’s expertise helps Advantech design more flexible products so as to meet market trends. As for Advantech’s Digital Signage roadmap, Jim Yeh is optimistic about the retail catering and counter services, and pointed out that as technology advances, both sectors need to implement diverse functions. Digital Signage is often used to provide menus and queuing systems for catering services, but now some restaurants, such as DinTaiFung Dumpling House, one of the best restaurants in Asia, have begun to introduce more advanced solutions. “After adopting our system, consumers can make meal reservations using a Digital Signage kiosk right at the restaurant entrance,” he said.
Another potential market is counter services, including banks, post offices, public institutions, and more. Digital Signage can display richer, more diverse information than traditional LED displays, including audio and visual effects. In addition, internet connectivity enables Digital Signage to serve as a private cloud terminal, so that users can manage their broadcast content via network, improving Digital Signage efficiency.
For the next step, Jim Yeh believes that intelligent technology is unlimited; it all depends on creativity. Taking the medical industry as an example, Digital Signage is mainly used as an information service device, facilitating patient registration and providing medical information. Advantech extends the services to mobile nursing carts to enhance the efficiency of medical care, and will provide other applications such as physiological measurements to make full use of technological advances.
Since position-sensing capability is a key technology feature of intelligent devices, RFID is a very important target market for Advantech as well. For example, a school’s management can use RFID tags to prevent bike theft as well as delivering messages to campus administrators. This is only one of many RFID applications, and innovative ideas will extend future development opportunities.
In the future, the primary job of Advantech Intelligent Services Department will be providing various packages, along with customized solutions to supplement the product lines. Advantech packages include all kinds of standard products, which cover the common needs of users. Plentiful product categories allow customers to choose suitable packages for their businesses. If there is a customization need that requires a slight modification, this enables a system integrator to significantly reduce development time and cost. Jim Yeh emphasized that this new service model is Advantech’s advantage and also benefits system integrators.