This year’s PCR Award’s, Company of the Year was scooped by visual technology display manufacturer, HANNspree. Michelle Winny, PCR’s Editor speaks with Martin Kent, HANNspree’s UK Manager, to find out about its latest business challenges, innovations and successes and how it has focused on meeting market demand.
Touchscreen technology has undoubtedly become the first choice for the human-machine interface. Here’s what HANNspree’s UK Manager, Martin Kent had to say about championing a winning business formula in this technology arena.
What is the current state of business for HANNspree?
Business is currently booming but is unfortunately pervaded with production, supply and logistics challenges, somewhat hampering our successes. It’s undoubtedly an ‘odd’ period and there is a lot of uncertainty around when it will be back to business as usual, but we persist to fulfil the significant demands for displays the best we can and are using this time to evaluate the future
What markets is the company currently finding the most uplift in?
We are currently reaping the benefits of a significant uplift within the touch sector. Most notably, our off-the-shelf and bespoke open-frame solutions are having significant impact on HANNspree’s bottom line. Fulfilling the demands of both OEMs and System Integrators, our open frame solutions are penetrating a variety of new markets as integrated human machine interface solutions. This ever-growing display market has presented a wealth of business opportunities for HANNspree, and already sees our open frame touch displays on-board hardware in car showrooms, restaurants, care homes, hotel lobbies and therapy centres, to name just a few. The fastest growing markets for touch screen applications that we are rapidly increasing our business within are hospitality, in-store retail, integrated sound solutions, care home, medical and leisure.
How has business evolved over the past 18 moths?
Evolving hasn’t been high on the agenda for the past 18 months. Fulfilling demand has been top priority. The work from home explosion created such a demand for home office products that display sales experienced an acute surge and cemented our success during 2020. In fact, monitor sales doubled during the first week that businesses were advised to work remotely. And the demand continues, with businesses choosing to continue to have their staff avoid the office. In all likelihood, office culture has been forever changed by the pandemic, as well as our attitudes to the daily commute and our outlook on how our workday affects our wellness, which will see home office display sales continue to be successful long into the future.
What has been the biggest business challenges over the past 18 months?
In I.T hardware, 2021 has been beset with many challenges cumulating to the current stock shortages, price changes and logistic hurdles that are affecting manufacturers suppliers across the globe. We have all had to weather component shortages, regional outbreaks of Covid in China affecting production, and now, shipping and port delays. UK and EU ports are experiencing huge congestion due to Brexit, there are driver shortages, while the displacement globally of containers has created long shipping delays and is also resulting in large increases in logistics costs.
Thankfully, HANNspree has able to utilise the flexibility of a UK warehousing facility to avoid the EU bottle neck. Where possible, we are directly shipping from China to the UK, which is helping to avoid Brexit delays, and we are managing with an increased price point.
What plans does the company have for next year and beyond?
The HANNspree focus continues to revolve around touch technology and all that this market has to offer. Additionally, we will maintain our commitment to evolving our non-touch product portfolio within the medium size display sector, in-line with our manufacturing expertise. In 2021, we have been busy reacting to consumer requirements, incorporating features into a variety of new products to cater for the changes in how we use technology. For example: we have launched a range of monitors, which are video conferencing ready featuring on-board webcams to streamline the home office; portable monitors to enable easy expansion of display workspace, anywhere, featuring USB Type-C for device-to-device transfers and charging; and a new large screen Tablet PC which makes the handheld computing experience more comfortable, especially for homework activities, distant learning, web browsing, mobile gaming, and social communications. We will continue to expand our consumer and B2B display portfolio, always sensitive to demand and changeable markets.
What are the biggest growth markets for the company?
Year-on-year we enjoy growth with our touch screen solutions and there is plenty of scope for continuous growth. Presently, we are seeing more demand for touch solutions in care environments, retail in-store POS and till systems, hospitality POI, education and for a variety of leisure applications. We hope, in 2022, that the market becomes more settled, and that the price, supply chain and logistic challenges peter out so that we are able to plan roll-outs with partners more effectively and grow HANNspree’s touch screen presence even further.
Are there any new markets the company is looking to move into?
We are in the process of stamping our mark in the gaming arena. To date, HANNspree has been relatively cool when it comes to gaming displays as it hasn’t been a market that promised the sales volume to justify the production. However, times have changed, and we are confident that the market has ballooned, so it makes good business sense for us to turn our manufacturing expertise to delivering dedicated gaming solutions.
The recent gaming boom, likely driven by lockdown boredom, has seen record level upsurges in gaming hardware sales. In fact, the market has become immense. There were reportedly 668 million gamers across Europe in 2020, 48% of which play on PCs rather than consoles. Gaming is also a market that we know will provide continuous rewards. Gamers in particular, have more of a tendency to ensure they have the most up-to-date hardware in order to meet the increasing demands of game content. Once they have invested time and money to build the ultimate, powerful gaming rig, having a display, or in many cases, multiple displays, that do the hardware visual justice, is essential.
The new monitors that we are launching clearly demonstrate our intentions to throw our manufacturing experience, flexibility and expertise into the gaming arena and deliver gamers exactly what they need to have the ultimate visual experience. We are excited to watch our brand presence in this market unfold.
What new technology is the company looking to deliver?
HANNspree continues to innovate touch solutions for hardware integration, and new technologies will almost certainly be developed to support a seamless partnership of third-party hardware and software. This is in-line with our overall strategy and where our R&D strengths currently lay. However, of late, focus is shifting more towards on ensuring that our green credentials are consistently being improved wherever possible.
The repercussions of the Covid crisis on sourcing, productions and transport tie our hands a little when it comes to revolutionising new technology. So, we are streamlining production, strategising how staff can be more efficient and eco-friendlier in their day-to-day business, committing to recycling goals and investing to ensure we are energy saving wherever possible. It is undoubtedly a great time for us all to review our environmental impact and ensure we are operating ethically and responsibly.
Are there any new partnerships you are working on that you can speak about?
We pride ourselves on lasting partnerships. In the UK, relations are paramount to our long-term forecasts, and we have a dedicated, long-standing team that is highly respected, knowledgeable, and fantastic to liaise with. And of course, our products are tried and tested delivering long-life, return on investment.
HANNspree can tap into the economies of scale enjoyed by parent company HannStar to ensure price competitiveness and has the manufacturing capability to react to market changes quickly and even bespoke solutions for specific tenders. We also boast localised UK service for all technical and development needs. All of which, puts us in good stead for new partnerships and ultimately to drive sales to our very healthy, established channel – our number one route to market.
Please could you explain how the rise of hardware integration applications featuring open frame displays presents new lucrative sales opportunities for the IT channel?
Digital display with user interaction has become extremely commonplace in recent years and continues to replace existing, alternative methods, which are now considered outdated. The exponential uptake of digital displays in a vast number of commercial and industrial sectors, such as retail, hospitality and production line, has created a huge ‘hardware integration’ market. Companies across the globe are producing innovative products featuring interactive user interfaces, some of which are on an industrial scale. These products are being designed for countless purposes, primarily to improve productivity or increase the satisfaction of customers and applications are ever emerging.
Open frame, touchscreen displays are at the heart of these devices and hardware integrators are looking to form relationships with suppliers. Their requirements can be a steady stream of business and often increase as their businesses grow. These accounts certainly provide the potential for the channel to reap substantial new revenue. With the demand for open frame solutions as it stands, especially touchscreen options, and the highly likely upsurge in the coming years, now is the ideal time to tap into the rapidly growing new avenue for display sales.