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Taking a Fresh Look: Interview with Barco’s Claudio Cardile

Barco’s Managing Director for ANZ, Claudio Cardile, took over the reins last year just in time to steer the big Belgian AV hardware and software vendor through the choppy waters of Covid.

By

2 September 2020

AV: Claudio, let’s start with the grim news. Barco projection has traditionally been heavily involved with big events. It’s sad to see an industry be so utterly decimated.

Claudio Cardile: The events industry has obviously been hit hard. The Business Events Council estimate the impact of the Covid crisis to be in the order of A$30b to the Australian economy this year, which is a. Absolutely huge. But as the pandemic has dragged on we’ve noticed some rethinking. Events are returning; but they don’t look exactly like the large events we’re accustomed to.

Some optimism is beginning to creep in around smaller events happening. We’re fielding more enquiries around boutique events, hybrid events and virtual events. I believe it’s an exciting development and it’s been exciting interesting to be part of some of those brain storming sessions with the range of product Barco has in the space.

AV: It’d be mad to think that the world of events will return to what it was prior to the pandemic.

CC: I agree. Hybrid events are here to stay. Even when we return to public gatherings there is going to be a much larger virtual component to those events than there was before Covid.

Yes, you still need a physical venue to host the event but events producers are now getting their heads around virtual LED backdrops, live streaming, and, indeed, streaming in a secure manner, and the technology required to host and stream events in multiple locations simultaneously. Again, with products like OpSpace and our LED range, Barco has relevant expertise and technology, so it’s been a real privilege to be part of those discussions.

ABOUT CLAUDIO CARDILE

Managing Director, Barco Australia & New Zealand: Claudio Cardile is a seasoned enterprise technology executive with more than 17 years of experience in commercial strategy, planning and operations. In his current role, Claudio leads the Australian and New Zealand operations of Barco, a global technology company headquartered in Belgium that specialises in networked visualisation and collaboration solutions. Claudio is passionate about bringing the latest technological breakthroughs to help Barco’s customers across the entertainment, enterprise and healthcare markets deliver enhanced experience and innovate their offerings. Based in Sydney, Claudio is responsible for growing Barco’s market share across its three core segments.

AV: ‘Pivot’ is the buzzword. But most in the commercial AV space have had to think beyond their normal bread ’n’ butter work, including Barco, I suspect.

CC: I think so. No one is left un-impacted. But for every challenge there’s an opportunity. Given Barco’s breadth of product portfolio we’ve been well positioned to start discussions with longstanding channel partners and look at other opportunities. Events partners are talking to us about installation work, for example. We have class-leading product in both camps.

It’s not all gloom and doom. Overall, Barco Australia’s sales have been up this calendar year. Our LED business is up.  Even the projection category is up. Just not in the usual verticals.

AV: You’ve got a distance learning product called . I’ve sat in on a demo. It’s really quite impressive, with a number of nifty collaboration and engagement tools. It seems like it should be an absolute no-brainer for the Covid crisis. How’s it going?

CC: We see WeConnect as a bullseye for corporate training and higher education. And there’s certainly been a lot of interest in WeConnect from those people. We’ve got a good number of POCs [proofs of concept] in the market at the moment.

It’s worth remembering that the university and private training colleges have been knocked sideways by Covid. They’ve had to pull a rabbit out of the hat to get all their students on platforms like Zoom — effectively to keep the wheels on. So they’ve not always got the headroom or the money to look into a totally new distance learning platform, as much as they see its worth.

There’s no doubt that the successes we’ve had with this product have been when people see the level of engagement you can enjoy with WeConnect compared to something like Zoom or Teams.

But did we expect a much more aggressive adoption of WeConnect? Yes.

Interestingly, I think the case for WeConnect will only be more compelling when students return to campus. Those classes will ideally need to be run in a ‘hybrid’ format — addressing those at home as well as those in the room. WeConnect provides the best possible experience for the student and the lecturer in those circumstances.

“Interestingly, I think the case for WeConnect will only be more compelling when students return to campus.”

AV: It’d be mad to think that the world of events will return to what it was prior to the pandemic.

CC: I agree. Hybrid events are here to stay. Even when we return to public gatherings there is going to be a much larger virtual component to those events than there was before Covid.

Yes, you still need a physical venue to host the event but events producers are now getting their heads around virtual LED backdrops, live streaming, and, indeed, streaming in a secure manner, and the technology required to host and stream events in multiple locations simultaneously. Again, with products like OpSpace and our LED range, Barco has relevant expertise and technology, so it’s been a real privilege to be part of those discussions.

AV: ‘Pivot’ is the buzzword. But most in the commercial AV space have had to think beyond their normal bread ’n’ butter work, including Barco, I suspect.

CC: I think so. No one is left un-impacted. But for every challenge there’s an opportunity. Given Barco’s breadth of product portfolio we’ve been well positioned to start discussions with longstanding channel partners and look at other opportunities. Events partners are talking to us about installation work, for example. We have class-leading product in both camps.

It’s not all gloom and doom. Overall, Barco Australia’s sales have been up this calendar year. Our LED business is up.  Even the projection category is up. Just not in the usual verticals.

AV: You’ve got a distance learning product called WeConnect. I’ve sat in on a demo. It’s really quite impressive, with a number of nifty collaboration and engagement tools. It seems like it should be an absolute no-brainer for the Covid crisis. How’s it going?

CC: We see WeConnect as a bullseye for corporate training and higher education. And there’s certainly been a lot of interest in WeConnect from those people. We’ve got a good number of POCs [proofs of concept] in the market at the moment.

It’s worth remembering that the university and private training colleges have been knocked sideways by Covid. They’ve had to pull a rabbit out of the hat to get all their students on platforms like Zoom — effectively to keep the wheels on. So they’ve not always got the headroom or the money to look into a totally new distance learning platform, as much as they see its’ worth.

There’s no doubt that the successes we’ve had with this product have been when people see the level of engagement you can enjoy with WeConnect compared to something like Zoom or Teams.

But did we expect a much more aggressive adoption of WeConnect? Yes.

Interestingly, I think the case for WeConnect will only be more compelling when students return to campus. Those classes will ideally need to be run in a ‘hybrid’ format — addressing those at home as well as those in the room. WeConnect provides the best possible experience for the student and the lecturer in those circumstances.

AV: Nonetheless I think everyone will look forward to those less-frequent, face-to-face interactions even more than before.

CC: Everyone wants in-person events and meetings to return, no question. But it’s interesting, if you’re willing to think outside the square and be flexible you don’t need to sacrifice attendance and engagement, albeit in a virtual format.

AV: And as you mentioned, a virtual component to any gathering of people will be mandatory from here on in.

CC: Absolutely. We are driving a lot of thought around hybrid events, meetings, training, lectures and more.

For a large, diversified company like Barco, it’s important to us that we don’t simply supply class-leading product, we want to help our channel partners come along for the ride in times of significant upheaval such as this. We can workshop different solutions, trial POCs, assist with training and service. It’s called ‘support’ and Barco prides itself in the level of support we provide.

Barco Australia: 1800 331 554 or www.barco.com

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