Vermantia’s latest content delivery solution, Vision NextGen, provides a one plug-and-play box with the ability to connect on two screens and differentiate the material it presents on each screen.
Menelaos Ladopoulos, Vermantia’s Technical Director, sits down with G3 Magazine to explain how a pioneering solution is born – from initial R&D through to hitting the market.
Could you tell us more about your role as Technical Director? What is your remit?
I have carried the role of Technical Director at Vermantia since 2018 having previously gained extensive expertise, built up from over 20 years of work in the Broadcast Media Industry, combined with high level of know-how and technical skills. I have previously worked in senior positions for some of the most innovative and transformational technology companies in the broadcast industry and have successfully delivered several turn-key projects nationally and worldwide.
Now I am responsible for Broadcast Engineering, Systems Integration, Content Delivery and Support Services. Holding broad responsibilities such as research and development and product strategy, recording the technical specifications of the products and services we use to maintain consistency throughout the production and delivery process.
What gap does Vermantia’s latest content delivery solution, Vision NextGen, fill in the market?
From day one, Vermantia had embedded in its DNA the passion and ability to distribute content to retail operators. Vermantia’s Vision NextGen fills an industry gap as it was created as a Complete Content creation/ management/ distribution/ delivery and display solution for our partners and clients giving them the ease and power to fully customize it.
Pioneering solutions that solve problems require extensive R&D before they hit the market. Could you talk us through the research side for Vision NextGen – what did it entail? How did you identify the aforementioned gap in the market?
Being in the gaming and broadcasting market for almost 20 years now, we have direct access to the source – our customers, real companies and real time difficulties they are facing. Our job is to identify these difficulties even before the customer does and provide solutions that in simple words will make their life easier and the end users more satisfied.
We have already conquered the world of streaming providing ultra-low latency streaming to our partners and customers, we identified soon enough that multifunctional solutions combining the best and necessary features that can be modified with just a phone are what is next and we focused on that.
Vision NextGen provides a combination of the best and most necessary features a retail operator requires and gives them the power to control it with just the press of a button on their personal phone. We believe Vision NextGen is the tool that will allow our customer not only to move to IPTV but also provide more content with less cost.
Your career history in engineering dates to 1996. How have research methods evolved over that time?
Today it is all about the internet. Back in the early to mid-90s research was much more difficult and technology was not evolved to the level we see it now. It is a gift to have access to massive information about a product or a perspective customer with just a quick search online. On the one hand this makes research easier, on the other you have to maintain that personal touch of the face to face interactions, it is a fine line that requires balance and experience. Nowadays we have an information overload so a professional doing research of the market or a new product ready to be launched, filtering and knowing what is truly useful is the key.
What do you see as the next innovation for researching new technologies?
Even today in 2021 we see that heavy equipment and bulky materials still rule the Information Technology world. Much like Vision NextGen, I believe other aspects of hardware technology will become more compact. This was the ideal goal for Vision NextGen, it combines a hardware and a software solution in a small compact box that can serve multiple purposes of: dual screen set up, any content combination of videos, data, promos, photos, provide ultra-low latency streaming, is cloud based, it is user-friendly and has a customizable back office, it provides the ability for schedule creation and all this in a plug and play device giving you different content per country, region, city, shop and screen.
This is a pioneer solution, and I am sure many more will follow in its footsteps.
Let’s move onto the ‘D’ in ‘R&D’. You have conducted your research and found there is a gap in the market for a holistic content management system that provides almost all the solutions necessary to be delivered with ease and almost at real time. Where do you begin to bring this research to physical fruition? How does the development process begin?
Having already the experience with almost all tier-one retail operators, we knew what was missing, we knew what they already have and we wanted to create something that was not visually or technically alien to our partners and customer’s eyes but made their life easier. So what we had to do was to create a pioneer product and service but mask it up to something familiar for the eye. And this is what Vision NextGen is, an innovative, cost effective box that holds a software which radically changes the way retail shops work, giving control back to the operator.
Is the development process broken down piecemeal into predefined stages or does the product naturally emerge over time as the team experiments and tests different ideas?
Usually a new product development requires it to be broken down into different stages before it can be launched. In the case of Vision NextGen, it was only natural for it to emerge through our day to day work and needs. We are always looking for ways to improve our current products and deliver something better every day keeping our partners and customers satisfied. This is how Vision NextGen emerged. Through the need to create an even better content management and delivery solution that combined ease and speed. Through extensive testing and tweaks we came to the final product ready for usage.
What is foremost in your thoughts throughout the development stage – the customer experience? The cost? Ease of use? Speed? Scalability? How do you balance these factors?
Nowadays you cannot just provide one of the above, you must excel at all of them. This is why we are so proud of Vision NextGen. It is a combination of speed, ease of use, scalability, customer experience and cost that leaves everyone satisfied. Yes, balance is everything and in 2021 you need everything to stay competitive, so our goal for Vision NextGen was not only to make our customers life easier but our own as well. It takes a great deal of balance and know-how to keep both worlds happy and also bring results. The solution provides a one plug and play box with the ability to connect on two screens and differentiate the material it presents in each screen. The power is in its simplicity; it provides a user friendly back office that allows each operator to control it with ease either remotely or on location.
Vision NextGen has successfully been created following an exhaustive R&D process. What happens next before it hits the market?
Vermantia has been in the market since 2007, we are proud to say that we have created a strong trusting relationship with our partners and clients that support us and vice-versa. Since word hit the market about Vision NextGen we have been in the talks with several of our customers asking to use it as a “test audience” if you like, and provide us with real time feedback. This makes us extremely proud because it is actual proof that we have created such strong relationships with our customers who are willing to become part of the testing process with prime location shops.
Our priority, as it has always been, is to provide the best possible products and services to the market and we have been doing so for a long time now that our top quality has been established.
Finally, what is your overriding feeling when a product that you have personally spearheaded in its creation is a success?
I have been lucky enough to see many of my products succeed and are still in the market today. We deliver live content of sports and racing with less than 2 seconds latency streaming, this is almost real time and it is one of our greatest achievements. The feeling is always the same and time never takes away from it. It is satisfaction and pride not only for myself but for my team who have worked endlessly to create a top of the line product and for Vermantia that supports our projects from day one. Being able to have a whole team and an entire company that has your back is an overwhelming feeling of trust and excitement to give the best possible result each and every time.
Vision NextGen takes the lead as our flagship product for 2021 – 2022, a product that we believe will revolutionize the way retail shops operate by bringing all the technological advancements and state-of-the-art back office all in a small box. Giving you full control of our data, the power is now in your hands.
For more information on Vermantia please contact Marianna Herodotou at: Herodotou@vermantia.com
Vermantia is a leader in omni-channel content solutions for lotteries, gaming, and betting operators worldwide. The company constitutes a one-stop shop for bespoke data and picture content featuring thousands of live racing and sports events a year, complemented by the most comprehensive portfolio of virtual sports and next gen games on the market. Founded in 2007, the company has offices in Athens, Cyprus and Italy, as well as representatives in the UK, CIS, and Nigeria, allowing it to partner with dozens of international operators across 32 countries. In March 2018, Arena Racing Company (ARC) acquired a majority stake in Vermantia, expanding its broadcast infrastructure and technological capabilities, allowing it to create a market-leading content & data hub. For more information about Vermantia visit www.vermantia.com
Source: G3 Magazine