The Holy Grail when it comes to maximizing return on investment (ROI) for retail digital signage is being able to put the most appropriate and impactful content in front of customers when they’re in front of the digital sign. That is precisely what NEC ALP (Analytics Learning Platform) makes it easy for retail customers to do.
During the 25th annual NEC Display New York Partner Showcase, the provider of commercial-grade digital signage solutions announced NEC ALP as a powerful business intelligence analytics platform for retailers that delivers real-time content and data measurement.
“It’s not a product that you can hold in your hand like a digital signage display,” Richard Ventura, VP of strategy, NEC Display Solutions of America, told Commercial Integrator. “It’s a platform.”
In other words, the sky is the limit. “It’s a platform that we can build multiple things on top of,” Ventura added.
“Today it’s retail analytics. Tomorrow it can be transportation analytics, digital-out-of-home, education … You can go down the list. It’s all about how we can deliver data at the granular level.”
What Is NEC ALP?
NEC ALP (Analytics Learning Platform) was developed as a completely new back-end architecture for the NEC ALP business intelligence platform that uses both edge and cloud computing to deliver real-time insights, according to the company.
Data is then delivered into the cloud where big data analytics will provide retailers with insights.
The platform discovers elements such as facial detection, non-identifying demographic data including age and gender and feeds them into a locally-based computing appliance, which then triggers the appropriate content to be shown.
Data is then delivered into the cloud where big data analytics will provide retailers with insights such as impact on sales from content, demographics and audience traffic, overall engagement with customers, and which content triggered the most positive customer experiences.
“NEC ALP is not a facial detection or even a digital signage solution,” Ventura says in NEC’s press release.
“It is a fully-featured business intelligence platform that is all about enhancing the customer experience by driving engagement. It’s less about hardware and more about the data analytic capability the technology enables.”
The NEC ALP system consists of hardware, software, cloud services, managed services, and big data analytics. Locally in-store, the platform consists of an edge computing appliance, cameras, and sensors.
The system is designed with full API integration into key digital signage content management systems (CMS), allowing it to deliver and trigger content onto different media player platforms. The triggered content is then displayed on NEC Display large- or small-format displays.
What NEC ALP Delivers to Retail Customers
“With NEC ALP, we’re giving retailers the ability to provide customers with a personalized experience through real-time, relevant content triggered by demographic data such as age and location,” Ventura says in NEC’s press release.
“You can tell the customer that when they run this ad this is the conversion of sales you’re likely to get based on it,” Ventura said.
“This also provides retailers with valuable insights on the impact their content has, creating more opportunities for consumer engagement, which is invaluable to growing their business.
“With NEC ALP, we’re helping retailers deliver the right message at the right time to the right audience.”
The platform’s data analytics capability gives retailers the power to deliver the right message or content to the audience because it answers the questions of who the customer is and which piece of content was most successful in creating a meaningful engagement, according to NEC.
Using this data, NEC ALP is able to draw a direct correlation between when content was played, the number of impressions and what the conversion rates are to actual sales.
That, Ventura told CI, is a key feature. “You can tell the customer that when they run this ad this is the conversion of sales you’re likely to get based on it.”
According to Ventura, changing customer behavior to spend more time in stores is one of the biggest challenges that retailers face.
He says NEC ALP answers that challenge by providing the ability to better target those in-store customers with the most intelligent content that is most likely to make positive impressions and improve engagement.
How NEC ALP Helps Integrators
For integration firms that serve retail customers, NEC has two very clear benefits:
- It allows them to step in and deliver a solution to one of their biggest business challenges.
- As a managed service, it’s a source of recurring revenue.
Venture put it best when he said NEC ALP is not a product. It’s a platform and a package.
It includes everything from consulting, software, hardware, cloud computing, customized software development, physical installation, software and hardware integration, integration into key content management platforms, and content creation capabilities.
The platform also includes on-site, 24/7 service and maintenance, with hardware, software, and managed services support.
“This is a managed service,” Ventura told CI. “This is really about the data and how you can deliver the data to the customer.”
Most importantly, he added, NEC ALP gives integrators “the ability to really help the customer with one of the biggest things happening to their business. It’s going to help them sell more.”
NEC ALP, like many of NEC’s turnkey solutions, leans on strategic partners to provide a complete package. Among those:
- Integration into the BrightSign platform
- NAVORI and StratosMedia content management systems (CMS)
- Microsoft Azure and Intel for infrastructure
NEC ALP also uses NEC EVA for video analytics and Data Call Technologies for weather and location-based content aggregation.
NEC ALP is available beginning in January 2019.