One of my last meetings at DSE a week ago was a post-show Day 2 sit-down over a couple of beers (yay!) with the guys who run Valota, a Finnish software content company that is taking a different approach to subscription content feeds.
They have Euro-centric versions of the standard news, sports and entertainment stuff that several North American companies – like ScreenFeed, Data Call and Digichief offer. But they also have some interesting widgets – for lack of a better term – for social media streams and particularly for business information.
What I think is really smart and largely unique in the digital signage market are those BI-based data visualizations for performance metrics that are coming out of Salesforce – the CRM platform used by gazillions of companies, large and small.
The idea is that a company that has a signage network operating in its offices can subscribe to Valota’s HTML5-driven visualization widgets, and point to their own specific sales performance metrics that reside in the Salesforce cloud. Valota helps clients point to the right datasets, and then the visualization just update themselves as data gets updated. So what’s on screens is as current as the data, without anyone in an office having to build a new report.
Here’s a sample visualization:
The intriguing thing, in talking to co-founders Kaijus Asteljoki and Tomi Paajanen, is that there are people in countless offices, everywhere, charged with compiling and presenting an update report on where sales activity is at. It can take half an hour. It can take half a day. But visualized, and tied right into the system, it’s always there on screens. So there’s a big potential saving in time and resources by using set-it-and-forget-it visualizations.
Because the content is HTML5, it’s responsive and can appear elsewhere, like desktops, tablets and smart devices (and yeah, that’s a handle with care thing).
I like the lean, minimal look of these visualizations, because if you get into things like colored backgrounds, there’s always someone who’s not going to like the choice. I also like that they are dynamic, because they have more visual attraction and hooks than static charting.
There are some signage CMS platforms that have done Salesforce integrations that generate visuals, as well, but the distinctions is that with Valota’s, that functionality is not tied to a specific CMS. If the CMS supports HTML5, then these visuals are just URLs that can get scheduled into a playlist, or locked on as the one thing that runs on a screen or set of screens.
The company already has subscription clients working with them in the Nordic region, but the guys were in Las Vegas last week looking for partners and end-user clients.
Thanks for the pints, guys!
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.