Six Questions for Bill Colson

Date: 
12/15/2011

Bill Colson - Director, Retail Services Segment, Personal Solutions Division, Intel Corp

Q: Bill, tell us a bit about your history at Intel.

A: I've been here 27 years. I started out on the hardware side. And pretty much my claim to fame was helping to design the first 386 PC running at a whopping 10 megahertz, with 512k memory.

So I started in hardware, but later worked as basically the Chief of Staff for an Intel Vice President, and then ran the Remote PC Assist business, standalone software that is now integrated into Intel chips.

Based on my experience with Remote PC Assist, I was asked to take a look at a possible acquisition of an analytics company and be part of the acquisition team. I was then asked -- it kind of came out of the blue – “would you mind heading this up?” It's like this is a dream come true. I get to be a mini-GM and actually run a profit and loss center.

Q: Why is Intel interested in digital signage and viewer analytics, in particular?

A: "Intel Inside” reflects our aspiration to be part of every microprocessor-based device. Digital signage is emerging rapidly, with what we estimate to be a 26% year-to-year average growth rate. It’s a perfect fit for Intel.

Digital signs are “compute intensive”, and that’s what we do best. As networks become more complex, and as new technologies, like 3-D, gesture and touch are added, digital signage becomes even more compute intensive. Analytics demands even more from the processor. So, you have a growing market where Intel can meet a core need.

We also think that Intel can help this young, somewhat fragmented industry by filling a major gap – audience measurement and analytics. The industry was being held back by the inability to objectively know who’s watching, what they’re watching and for how long. It really doesn’t matter if you’re in advertising, marketing, branding, human resources, or any other user of digital signs; you need to understand viewer behavior in order to optimize the effectiveness of your screens and content.

Q: Why did Intel decide to acquire CognoVision rather than one of its competitors?

A: They rose to the top for several reasons. Essentially, CognoVision had excellent leadership, solid code and some very strong patents. AIM Suite is a software-based service that requires no proprietary hardware. That means we can offer the service at very affordable rates. And we can evolve our feature set and improve accuracy, quicker and easier, with a software-based solution.

Q: Aren't software and services outside of Intel's experience and comfort zone?

A: I don’t think so. We have a major group called the Intel® Software and Services Group, with well over 5,000 software developers. So, we have a long history software development, but not so much in marketing software services.

That’s what’s so exciting about Intel AIM Suite. It’s a new opportunity for Intel that will also connect back to our core business – microprocessors. Really, AIM Suite is a Win – Win for everyone. Digital signage providers get the stability and worldwide reach of Intel. End users are able to objectively understand the behavior of viewers. The public gets more relevant information. And we grow our expertise in software and services, the two hottest categories in IT.

Q: So, how important do you think audience measurement is to the success of the digital signage industry?

A: I think it’s critical. It’s the “missing link”. There’s an old saying, “What you can’t measure, you can’t market”. Advertisers and marketers will be much more interested in out-of-home media now that they can objectively measure and analyze the ROI from their overall network, individual screen locations, and each segment of on-screen content. But Intel AIM Suite isn’t just for advertisers and marketers, or just for digital signs. It seems like, nearly every week, we hear about new, innovative uses for AIM Suite. Anyone who wants to measure audience demographics and understand viewer behavior, out-of-home, should take a look at what AIM Suite can do to help them make better decisions. And provide stronger viewer experiences.

Questions? AIM Suite Knowledge Base