Sharp Discusses Joint Venture Developments

Published: February 1, 2024
Photo courtesy: Sharp.

In the commercial AV industry, partnerships and collaboration are crucial to our collective success. The joint venture between Sharp Corp. and NEC Display Solutions, which commenced in November 2020, is the perfect example of that. The two companies’ alignment has contributed to the upward trajectory of the display-solutions market for the past three-plus years.

In the runup to ISE 2024, Commercial Integrator welcomed Todd Bouman, EVP, proAV display business, Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America, onto the AV+ podcast to discuss the continuing maturation of the joint venture between Sharp and NEC. In addition, Bouman talked about some of the exciting announcements that Sharp has up its sleeve as trade show season kicks off. In fact, he shared lots of insights about Sharp/NEC and its expanded presence at ISE 2024.

Here, we’ll recap this very newsy AV+ podcast.

Sharp Continues Growth Trajectory

According to Bouman, the biggest change pertains to the joint venture. As of January 1, all Sharp/NEC employees have now transitioned to being Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America employees. “This [move] is really going to benefit both: the market and customers,” he explains. “We now have clarity of our identity in the market, as well as how we will engage with our customers moving forward.” From Bouman’s perspective, greater clarity of identity creates numerous advantages for the B2B side of the organization. For instance, Sharp now has a renewed focus on improving the customer experience through insightful innovations and services. “It is not just [about] a product/hardware customer-facing perspective, but also [about] providing great service and support to our customers and the industry itself,” Bouman emphasizes.

Bouman proclaims that the other advantage for Sharp customers is that they will receive the “best of both worlds,” benefiting from Sharp and NEC’S combined R&D resources. “The experts in Japan, from an engineering perspective, are working [really] hard,” he says with a smile. “And we look forward to bringing [our latest products] to the market.” At its simplest, the next phase for the company boils down to strategizing on a single roadmap for both brands over the next few years.

Expansion of Business Strategies

Let’s turn to the pillars of business strategy at Sharp. Bouman says that, while its hardware offerings are a huge source of pride, the company’s real focus is on the solutions available in the markets. “All of our customers and partners are looking to solve their problems,” he underscores. “And our technology helps to resolve those very problems.” With this in mind, Bouman states that Sharp remains at the forefront of providing key solutions that address emerging needs for not only partners but also end users. “For instance, we’re looking at how to expand in the DVLED space [due to rising demand],” he reveals.

Speaking to the integrator community specifically, Bouman says the goal is to reduce pain points as much as possible. “We want to try to take away the backend ‘pain’ so that [integrators] can focus on the customer and the end user,” he reiterates.

Providing Engaging Experiences

Another key pillar of Sharp’s strategy and success is its commitment to understanding how partners and customers engage with Sharp and NEC solutions. In this regard, Bouman believes that the key is to simplify. As he explains, “If we get too complicated, people will get frustrated, and it tarnishes the brand.” According to Bouman, the flexibility and adaptability of Sharp and NEC solutions contributes to their ubiquity.

Bouman adds that this mindset of streamlining and simplicity extends to internal operations, as well. “When we began our joint venture, we [initially] had different processes,” he acknowledges. “However, now, we have combined and simplified the model.” By uniting its processes, including the supply-chain model, Sharp can now leverage its resources in a more streamlined manner. As Bouman reflects, “We’re now able to leverage our own infrastructure to engage and do our business [better].”

Going Global

Sharp is, of course, a multinational entity. Accordingly, Bouman underscores its global operations as a major pillar for business growth and new opportunities. From Bouman’s perspective, global outreach is more important than ever before. He adds, “As the world grows smaller, we acknowledge and recognize that our partners have [expanded] their global reach.” Naturally, then, the onus is on Sharp to align with this global perspective by executing services and support for all its partners at the national as well as international levels. “We consider [our global services] to be one of our biggest differentiators, and we will continue to expand that in the years to come,” Bouman promises.

Sharp Leans into Sustainability

According to Bouman, one of Sharp’s key drivers in the year ahead will be its sustainability initiatives. He states that the company’s internal operations are translating into efforts to serve the market itself. “The question we now ask ourselves is this: ‘What can we do to help our customers reach their sustainability goals?’ And that’s how we come out with the technology solutions,” Bouman reveals. For instance, the company developed the NEC FExx13 Series direct-view LED displays, whose dramatic decrease in power consumption does not come at the expense of brightness or image quality. “Keep an eye out for this low-power-consumption series at ISE 2024!” Bouman enthuses.

And that’s not all that Sharp has to offer with regard to green initiatives. Bouman further reveals that new ePaper models, developed in conjunction with E Ink Technology, will make their official debut at ISE 2024 and launch in March. He explains that the biggest advantage of the ePaper models is that they bring power consumption down to virtually zero. “This is a great use of technology to not only eliminate the use of paper but also [drive] the message of sustainability,” Bouman underscores. “All in all, it’s a very cool solution!”

At ISE 2024, the company will also display the Sharp MultiSync® ME series, the first of the products co-developed under the joint venture. “This is the true development cycle that we experienced with our new research-and-development teams,” Bouman reveals. “And it’s a phenomenal product.” In addition to this, the company will launch its first Sharp-branded projector, followed by the transition of the MESSAGE Series lineup to Sharp at the end of the year.

Concluding Thoughts

“These are…big moves for us, and it’s great to get the word out to our customers and partners,” Bouman remarks. He adds that, from Sharp’s perspective, the objective is to be as transparent as possible with the AV industry. “We want to educate and make sure [our audience] understands what’s happening [at the company],” Bouman explains. “We love the [broader] focus now in the AV industry.”

Bouman concludes by expressing his excitement on the latest investments and innovations that Sharp has lined up. “There’s a lot happening behind the scenes to really focus on expanding the reach of AV, and we hope our partners can consider and take advantage of that!” he declares.

Sharp is exhibiting at ISE 2024 at Booth 3E500, showcasing both Sharp-branded and NEC-branded offerings. For more information on the product lineup, check out the podcast interview with Bouman.

Want more information about ISE 2024 and its product launches? If so, check out Commercial Integrator’s ISE 2024 hub page for much, much more!

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