In our Coping with COVID-19 series, AVNetwork is interviewing manufacturers to discover how they’re handling the COVID-19 crisis and how the pandemic has impacted their businesses.
Jeff Hastings, CEO at BrightSign, discusses the company’s response to COVID-19.
AVN: Have you pivoted your business strategy in response to COVID-19? If so, how?
JEFF HASTINGS: Fortunately our core business remains strong, so we haven’t needed to make any dramatic pivots. But we have expanded our offering to include new solutions aimed at helping businesses navigate the reopening challenges brought on by COVID-19.
Businesses of all sorts are quickly trying to figure out how to safely operate under a long list of new COVID-related regulations, and we’re doing our best to leverage our technology to decrease the need to physically interact with high-touch surfaces. Our BrightMenu solution lets people view restaurant menus on their phones by simply scanning a QR code. And our new BrightLink offering makes it possible for customers to view and even control interactive digital signage using their phones.
AVN: How have your day-to-day operations changed during this time?
JH: Like most businesses, most of us are still working from home. But, despite the lack of in-person interaction, we’ve adapted surprisingly well to remote work. Being in the AV space, video collaboration is a medium we were accustomed to long before the novel coronavirus emerged. So adjusting to remote work wasn’t difficult at all, but of course we look forward to the day when we can return to the office.
Return-to-work planning is well underway, and I suspect we’ll take a phased approach whereby not everyone returns to onsite work at the same time. In fact, I would bet that BrightSign and many other companies will continue to embrace remote work for certain roles long after this health crisis runs its course.
AVN: Has COVID-19 had an impact on your supply chain? If so, how are you handling any delays?
JH: Fortunately our supply chain has avoided major disruption. We’re also in the habit of keeping a good amount of inventory on-hand, so our surplus came in handy in March and April when overseas shipping was temporarily disrupted.
AVN: Have you implemented any virtual training/education resources for integrators?
JH: Online training webinars have long been a key component of our outreach to the integrator community. And we’ve definitely seen increased attendance at our live training sessions, and an uptick in folks downloading various video assets we keep archived on our website. I expect this will continue in the future, particularly if business travel is slow to rebound.
AVN: What has been your largest leadership success during this time?
JH: The leadership team as a whole has really pulled together during this challenging time. Our finance team deserves a lot of credit for always positioning the company to weather unanticipated disruptions like these.
From an engineering and marketing launch standpoint, I was amazed how quickly the team developed our new BrightMenu and BrightLink solutions. What should have taken months to bring to market was accomplished in a few short weeks—an amazing feat considering everyone was still adjusting to remote work at the time.
AVN: How do you think business will change post-COVID-19?
JH: I suspect that COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on AV-related interactivity because people will be reluctant to interact with high-touch surfaces. But instead of interactivity going away, I think we’ll actually see a surge in interactive solutions, but with the caveat that the interactivity will come from interaction other than touching a single, public screen.
This health crisis will accelerate innovation in the interactive space, and I believe in the very near future we’ll begin to see some exciting new ways to embrace interactivity without the need to physically engage with a display.
AVN: Anything else you'd like to add?
JH: In general, thorough and accurate communication has become more important than ever. Digital signage can accomplish this task better than anything else, given its ability to convey live feeds of important information and be updated regularly. Office lobbies, manufacturing floors, public spaces, transportation facilities, retail, entertainment, and hospitality will likely escalate their plans for digital signage roll-outs once it’s safe to re-open.
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