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Gene Savoie Leads Sony’s Newly Formed Professional Displays Division

SCN: What is your position, and what does it entail?

Gene Savoie: I’m head of a newly formed division focusing on Sony’s presentation display products, which includes our display lines, our projector lines excluding the SXRD, our LCD panel product line, and our digital signage and hospitality market products.

SCN: How has your background prepared you for your role?
GS: I’ve been with Sony for 28 years and I’ve done a number of things, including sales and marketing for the old Systems Integration sector and our professional services division. From 2001-2003 I was responsible for the broadcast network marketing group. Prior to that I was in the

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Gene Savoie national account organization, managing our account with CBS. Before that I was a regional sales manager in Dallas, and prior to that I was a territory manager. Being completely focused on displays is a new thing for me though, as I’ve had a fairly broad background that included broadcast and other markets.

SCN: What are your short- and longterm goals?
GS: For short-term goals, we’re looking at becoming more of a recognized player in the digital signage marketplace. We’re dedicating a lot of effort to developing channel partners in the digital signage space. On the projector side, there’s a desire to grow our entry-level projectors. We’ve got a newer product line focused on integrators, and we’ve got a new road show where we’re bringing our product line to specific channel partners, working with contractors, end users, consultants, architects, etc.

For long-term goals, we want to reestablish Sony in the systems integration business. We’ve got a team dedicated to doing that. To do so, we’ve gotten involved in a number of large-scale projects, like the Gillette Stadium in New England. We’re also working to establish Sony’s relationships with these higher visibility projects. We’re not trying to be the prime contractor, but we’re working very closely with the customers. If they tell us they’re interested in a product, we figure out the best way to get it in these new facilities.

SCN: What is the greatest challenge that you face?
GS: The competitive marketplace, especially in digital signage projects, is difficult. Trying to position Sony and our overall value proposition against these lower-priced leaders is difficult. But that’s where our ability to put our arms around an entire project is critical. We’re doing a number of things to add value to those boxes, and we’re looking at working with our professional services organization to come up with extended warranty packages, taking a warranty responsibility around an entire project and looking at the total cost of ownership.

SCN: Are there new initiatives we are likely to see from Sony?
GS: We’re doing a number of things around specific markets. We’re really focusing more on the verticals, merging our marketing efforts with our various sales teams. It’s all an integrated effort between divisions. The first thing customers want to speak of when we’re looking at a big project is large displays, so we’re trying to focus on leading with displays and then moving into our other products. The sooner we get to the customer to talk about our displays, the sooner we can pull the rest of our product line into the discussion before the equipment list is completed.

SCN: How can systems contractors better position themselves to profit from products and/or services you have to offer?
GS: We’re rolling out some new products to help round out our product lines this year and the next. We want to become a major identified player in the education market, from lowend to high-end. We’re working with our segment marketing teams and channel partners to drive specifically into the education market. Around digital signage, we’ve got some new products and we’ve made an effort to simplify the process. We bundled a display with various components to make it much simpler. We’ve implemented 24-hour help desks to assist with installations. Also, we’re looking for ways to add more value to our products for the end user and contractors.

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