Interview with Shaun Marklew
At the Recent Sahara Showcase Event, sales & marketing director Shaun Marklew, took the time out of, what im sure was a very busy schedule, to talk to me about his experience in the industry, his time working at Clevertouch and his thoughts on the changes he has seen within the industry and the direction it his heading.
How long have you worked in the industry and what is your role within Clevertouch?
I have been the Sales & Marketing Director for Clevertouch for 6 years. Previously I worked at Owl Audio Visual and Midwich. Overall, I’ve spent 24 years working in the AV technology sector with 14 year as Sales and Marketing Director. It’s my role to ensure that Clevertouch products retain and grow their market share. Sales and marketing are of course an important aspect of the company’s success, but it’s also my role to identify forthcoming market trends to ensure that Clevertouch products remain relevant and serve the needs of an ever-growing customer base - across education, HE/FE and corporate organisations.
How key do you think it was being first to market with the Clevertouch?
Launched in 2009 at a time when there was no market place for interactive touchscreens, the company quickly recognised the potential impact of technology in the classroom. Clevertouch was the first manufacturer to introduce interactive touchscreens designed specifically for education. Interactive whiteboards were the incumbent classroom technology - but Clevertouch knew it was only a matter of time before schools demanded the same functionality found on tablets and handheld devices from their front-of-class displays. Being first to market gave us a lead on our competitors – but 8 years on, we wouldn’t still be there if our product development wasn’t ahead of the game. At this year’s AV Awards, our Plus Series won Interactive Product of the Year of the Year. We are extremely proud of our AV Award for Plus Series. We beat nine other huge rivals and we continue to dominate being the only interactive manufacturer to win an AV Award. AV Awards are the most prestigious industry recognised awards event in Europe. It’s judged by end users. We beat nine other rivals including Surface Hub. The shortlist being: - 2015 Manufacturer of the Year - 2016 Interactive Product of the Year – V Series - 2017 Interactive Product of the Year – Plus Series
In your experience how has touchscreen technology changed over the past few years and what direction is it heading in?
Plus Series was the first to introduce an inbuilt Android operating system and a simple user interface, which has transformed the Clevertouch Plus into a giant iPad. Before that large format displays were simply dumb devices that required a connected PC in order to display images and power interactivity. The market has followed suit and a number of competitors have introduced Android operating platforms into their own displays. The biggest influence over the last 12-months has been the growing demand for collaboration between users across multiple devices and multiple platforms. Clevertouch is a truly pioneering interactive technology, the Plus Series is the only touchscreen in the world that’s compatible with iPhone/iPad, Android smartphone/tablet, Chromebook, Windows PC/laptop and Mac OS devices – multiple students can connect to the Plus, bidirectionally mirroring content and crucially touch, a world first.
What are Clevertouch doing to stay innovative and which developments particularly excite you?
Our research and developments team has a proven track record of introducing new technology innovations into its products ahead of its competitors. Many innovations are driven by customer needs. Clevertouch actively encourages feedback, which in turn feeds the company’s development pipeline. The company ensures it remains agile, so it can react quickly to new technology trends and market demands, thereby maintaining its technological lead. Capacitive Touch, for instance, is one of the key rising technology trends for interactive displays. It’s taken two years in development and enables the customer interface of large format screens to truly replicate the seamless user experience found on a handheld device. Only Microsoft Surface Hub and Capacitive Touch within our Pro Series range has this true bonded glass technology – Clevertouch being by the most competitive in terms of price.
If I was a teacher/school, what would you be saying to me to convince me Clevertouch is the right one?
Plus Series is a premium interactive touchscreen developed specifically for education. The leading interactive flat panel, with 25% market share in the UK (2016 FutureSource), Plus Series breaks new ground and has shaped the market through cutting-edge innovation. A key feature that sets Clevertouch apart from other brands is its simplicity. Teachers and lecturers told us they wanted a ‘walk up and use’ experience that’s as intuitive as the phone in their pocket – with the LUX user interface, powered by Android, award-winning educational software, slot in PC, and improved Cleverstore 2.0, no other interactive touchscreen comes close to Clevertouch Generation 3 of the Plus Series. Plus Series comes with a host of the most popular apps used by teachers. The proprietary Lynx 5 annotation and lesson planning software allows teachers to create imaginative lessons with content from a variety of sources as well as enabling students to interact with content and collaborate in the classroom. The Cleverstore is a free, dedicated educational App store where all apps (even those from familiar developers with big-name licenses) have had all advertising and in-app purchases removed, allowing educators to use them in the classroom with confidence. When it comes to maintenance and management of multiple Clevertouch screens across a site, the newly launched Mobile Device Management tool lets IT and system managers remotely memory wipe on shut down, remove or enable apps/software, update security protocols, apply updates and much more In addition, Over-the-Air technology means that new features, bug fixes, software and hardware updates can be seamlessly delivered to every Clevertouch screen ensuring its smooth running.
What separates Clevertouch from the competition?
Clevertouch has a number of standout advantages that set it apart from its competitors. I’ve already touched on many but in summary: • First totally system agnostic interactive touchscreen – attach any device to our panels • First to enable bidirectional screen mirroring with touch to any connected device • First to feature an integral dual slot PC and Android modules • First to introduce a Mobile Device Management (MDM) tool letting IT managers remotely control the features and settings of any Plus screen in a school • First interactive touchscreen to introduce wireless Over-the-air (OTA) updates – have our latest updates no matter how old your panel • Supports Smart Notebook and a wide range of commonly used file formats including Microsoft Office • Widest connectivity options available including HDMI, VGA, Audio, USB, RS232, LAN, AirPlay™ & more • Integrated with the cloud, with embedded Android and access to Google’s G Suite (Gmail, Docs, Drive and Calendar) • All Software is free for life with every screen
What other products do you think will be key for Clevertouch next year?
Our Pro Series for HE/FE users and businesses is a huge growth area for us next year. Like education before, commercial businesses and HE/FE are demanding professional solutions that can match the technology students and employees are coming to lectures and meetings with. We understand that security is a major concern for Corporates and HE/FE, and often a barrier to entry before now. But unlike other products on the market, the Pro Series operating system functions in a layer separate to the network. This is a massive benefit from a corporate point of view our screen. It’s like putting a giant tablet into a meeting room that anyone can use independent of the network.
Thanks to Shaun for taking time to speak to us, at what was a brilliant event put on by Sahara. We hope you found the article as interesting and informative as we did. If you have any questions regarding the interview, please get in touch via our twitter account @rocheav73. Thanks again for reading, make sure to check out our other content, look out for interviews and much more in the future!
By Alex Taylor | October 2017