Business Info - issue 151 magazine 16 INTERACTIVE DISPLAYS As inventor of the category 35 years ago, SMART Technologies was once synonymous with interactive whiteboards. Since then, many more vendors have entered the market and interactive whiteboards have been superseded by interactive displays – a development Smart was initially slow to pick up on. Today, it is still a major top-three player, with a solid base in education and a growing footprint in the enterprise. Buoyed by post-Covid education sector grants and corporate investment in collaboration spaces to support hybrid working, SMART has been growing by 30% to 40% in every region across the world, except in the UK where demand has been constrained by a lack of Government support for schools and a mature replacement market – at least in education. Jenna Pipchuk, Executive VicePresident Chief Sales Officer at SMART Technologies, points out that in contrast to the education sector demand amongst UK businesses has been growing as organisations reconfigure their workspaces to support diverse collaboration requirements. “Where we’re seeing most of our strategic counselling is in the return to office and how to set up spaces where people can come and work together.We know that you can work from home, from your laptop quite productively, but that's not always 100% collaboratively. When do you need to be in the office and what do you need the office to do? What does that space look like?,” she says. “In our enterprise market, the return to work is a bit scrambled and we’re using some of the learnings that we have gained from education to help organisations understand that the office has changed from a place that you go to every day just to do your work to a place where you really need key collaborative environments. Businesses now understand that they have to combine what’s going on in the office and what's going on at home and make the space in the office much more relatable to collaboration.” In addition, SMART is seeing demand from certain niche areas, such as digital courtrooms, and key verticals like construction, as well as the broader SME market – a trend that Pipchuk says is taking SMART back to its roots. “A little known fact about SMART is that we started in the enterprise and then schools adopted the technology, after which touch technology really grew. People sometimes forget we were doing touch before iPads, when touch was a phenomenal, magical thing in education. Over the years, we've had a few entrances into the Business and Enterprise space.We were one of the three main manufacturers for Microsoft Room Systems a number of years ago and now that people are trying to redefine what working should be like after Covid it seems as though the business market is ready again.” She adds that one of the reasons the business market has caught up is that SMART is already familiar to so many of today’s office workers. “We’ve been selling into education for a few generations and people who know us from that environment are now in the workforce and expect to use the same kinds of collaboration technologies that they had in schools in their work environments.” Simply better That aside, why should a customer choose a SMART Board rather than an equivalent from one of many other providers in this space? One reason, says Pipchuk, is the simplicity of SMART technology. “The technology just works. And what we mean by that is when you pick up a pen, it writes like a pen.When you Back to its roots SMART Technologies, which started out with a focus on business customers before being adopted by schools, colleges and universities, is re-engaging with enterprises and SMEs to help them address the practicalities of hybrid working Jenna Pipchuk