Given that Pat Hellberg and I have been doing digital signage consulting for years, I get slightly twitchy when I see an announcement for a company that lays it down that it does “intelligent digital signage consulting” – like that’s something new.
But I know the guys who have put together OnPath, and know that’s not a dig (or at least not at us).
OnPath is the brand for the digital signage practice at Portland-based TargetPath, which does management consulting for a variety of firms, from display guys to headphones manufacturers.
OnPath is really Lou Giacalone (CoolSign founder) and Aaron Higley (until recently, at Titan running digital) and a little of Brad Gleeson’s time – Gleeson having been in and around the display side of this space for many, many years.
Officially, OnPath does all the good things genuinely experienced people can bring to a project, so the project actually launches and runs well. Preset has been stupid-busy this year, so I know the demand is there if you can provide real and honest advice.
OnPath is a competitor to Preset, but I’ve chatted with Lou and Brad and know they go at things quite a bit differently. The thing that’s really different is the OnPath Review program, which Lou likens to UL certification for software platforms.
Says the OnPath announcement:
In every industry, market intelligence resources have evolved to provide customers and vendors alike with guidance in their analysis, planning, and buying processes. Until now, the digital signage market has been lacking in this regard. With over 300 choices of software available to the market, the situation has become untenable.
I actually don’t think many serious people with real budgets are looking at #51 to #300, but trying to choose from 50 varieties of the same thing would indeed be bewildering.
No customer, or integrator even, has the capability do a proper assessment of choices, often resulting in poor buying decisions. We’ve heard of many instances where buying decisions are not made based on technical facts, but on which salesperson they trust the most – a direct result of insufficient information being available.
OnPath is stepping up to address this need for detailed, accurate information with our new OnPath Reviews program. Like a “consumer reports” for digital signage, this program will provide in-depth technical reviews of products in the market, beginning with the software offerings. Our team is uniquely qualified to provide this service to the market, having decades of experience on both the vendor and client side of the table, and the technical expertise to dig in and ask the right questions and get the answers.
The idea is that software vendors would pay OnPath to have them lab-test their platform and produce a detailed report (cost is in the four figures, but I forget the first number) that itemizes the strengths and weaknesses. They are also seeking blanket sponsors – like PC and chipmakers – for the reports.
The Mr. CrankyPants in me immediately thinks a paid product review wouldn’t exactly arrive on a desk with the integrity of a Consumer Reports analysis, but Lou says this won’t be advertorial-style reviews that result in endless awesomeness. “No one,” says Giacalone, “is going to come out perfectly rosy.”
It’s an interesting take on things, and Lou has had the notion in his head for a long time. I remember him walking me through it over lunch in Lost Wages back in 2009.
The challenge, of course, is finding software vendors willing to spend the money and more so, willing to pay for a report that may not be an easy A.