June 22, 2022 - Banyan Hills Technologies Chief Product Officer Eric Hoersten has been harnessing information technology and developing transformational software applications for more than 15 years, including as the SVP of technology and a founding member of the iconic Redbox DVD Rental kiosk business, which grew to more than 45,000 kiosks and $2 billion in revenue. Hoersten became a Canopy platform customer when he co-founded Swing King, a hole-in-one contest experience for golf courses built on hundreds of remotely managed video cameras to verify game outcomes. Now Hoersten is helping to extend the Canopy platform as an increasing number of businesses and industries turn to remote monitoring and management of devices to grow and scale.
Q: How dramatically has the landscape changed for IOT (Internet of Things) and smart devices?
A: In just the last couple of decades we’ve gone from IT infrastructure housed mostly in data centers with controlled environments that required personnel on premises for fixes to a place where so many things are now smart-enabled and deployed in the field. You can grab a Raspberry Pi for around $40 and create an off-the-shelf custom solution that can be fully integrated with whatever technology you are deploying, be it a kiosk or smart power meter or connected kitchen device, and have real-time visibility.
We’ve now got this intersection of network availability, processing power and affordability allowing all kinds of companies to enable smart devices. There is now the processing power and capability to deploy low-cost devices outside of data centers as wireless networks and wireless technology become more readily available at lower price points. In the past, truck rolls were required to service, maintain, and fix devices, but so much can now be managed remotely. That capability is only going to grow.
Q: Where does Canopy fit in when helping companies scale remote device capability?
A: It’s one thing to manage 25 unattended technology solutions, whether a kiosk or digital sign or iPad. If they are all within relatively close proximity you can log into those devices every few hours and make sure they are up and running properly and handle that scale with manual processes.
But, once you get to 100 devices, or 1,000 or 20,000 it is just not feasible to have someone checking that number of devices every day. At the same time, you may be deploying devices for a customer and that customer expects those devices to work. You need to know when and where there is an issue with a device before your customer does and be prepared to prevent a bad experience.
Canopy is built on decades of experience managing unattended devices and offers a unique solution that can be used with almost any device type. The platform runs on our proprietary Leaf software and offers a central pane of visibility on health and function across a fleet of devices.
The solution is also built to weed out unnecessary device noise like phantom alerts or false alarms that can clog an inbox and focuses only on meaningful algorithms and data that, for example, impact KPIs. Canopy also can cascade multiple data points and drill down on which devices are really having issues.
The first step in managing remote devices is creating that visibility and then layering on the intelligence and filtering information. The next step comes with automations that fix and remotely recover and repair devices. At that point you are getting to that device before humans ever need to be involved. Now you are talking about real operational savings. You can go from 100 locations to 40,000 locations with much lower overhead. That is a huge impact for businesses trying to scale.
The last step comes with leveraging the available analytics to establish a baseline trend for the availability of your devices and then look for ways to set targets and work to improve overall reliability.
Q: What industries and types of companies are going to benefit most from connectivity and remote device monitoring and management?
A: I think especially those businesses that are adding a lot of technology, yet are not set up for internally managing the monitoring and maintenance of these devices. Think of dentist offices and vet clinics that have ever-increasing demand for the latest technology and those businesses focused on user experiences that can’t miss a beat. That includes businesses with multiple locations, like restaurants, that have high-demand customers. For businesses that are trying to add more unattended devices, like digital signage providers and retailers, they want to create a model that is scalable and managed effectively. It’s one thing for a big-box retailer with infrastructure to implement and add devices, but smaller stores now want the same functionality and same consistent delivery of a great experience.
On the flip side you have the whole managed service provider network that is delivering services and must make sure they can anticipate and fix issues before their customers see any disruption. Having Canopy provide that service and allow MSPs to report back to their customers is another area where we see success. Canopy’s sweet spot is large and growing as the market experiences an explosion of need for these solutions.
Q: What’s on the horizon for Canopy and what industry trends are most exciting?
A: The Canopy product is incredibly flexible. We can be so easily configured, and we can integrate with and consume data from just about every space and incorporate that data into customized fields that makes for a unique solution for our customers. The next phase will be enabling our customers to self-manage and create those customizations for any solutions they are looking to deploy, from how data flows, to what metrics are being tracked, to which KPIs are most important.
I get excited about new hardware that is coming and the advancements we are seeing with cellular networks, along with capabilities that are going to make it a lot easier to enable smart devices in locations that were cost prohibitive in the past.
We can also be a tremendous resource for new solutions looking to scale. So many people take for granted how to manage their unattended devices. We have decades of experience knowing how to manage both the implementation of a concept and the scaling of a fleet of devices across many locations. We can help you get ahead faster.
See how Canopy, our connected device solution, is helping businesses just like yours. Contact us today for a free demo!