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UK displays: Changes & challenges

Graeme Little, head of display UK, Samsung Electronics, on changes to, and challenges in the display market, barriers to success, and tips to youngsters entering AV

How has the UK display market changed in the last few years?
The pandemic disrupted the display market, leading to some real highs and lows. While we saw unparalleled demand in the monitor space, as offices closed, the corporate, retail and signage markets faced tough challenges. 

We have seen a significant shift in mindset as to how display can move the industry forward. The overriding feedback from our customers seems to be around collaborative and experiential needs from not only their display, but technology as a whole. 

We have also seen a real upturn in outdoor display products demand, with the market beginning to truly adopt digital as the future with LED being the core driver, and both partner and customer ability to adopt and maximise the commercial opportunities it brings. 

The market is beginning to retract from a truly remote working environment to hybrid, a mix of office and home working. This presents a huge opportunity for display as companies strive to make the office more appealing and experiential. 

What do you see as the key challenges for the display industry?
Display and AV is an integral technology for digital transformation across all verticals and we must embrace the wider opportunities it creates. We must recognise that the benefits to display technology is no longer enough on its own to persuade customers. We must embrace their desire to incorporate data, AI, IoT, SmartThings, Unified Communications and collaborative technologies as part of a rounded solution. 

Display will always be the immersive and desirable piece of the solution as it is where people engage and interact with the information being presented. It is how we use this information and translate that to quantifiable outcomes that will separate us as a business. As such, we need to be open to collaboration with channels, technologies and software partners who will allow us to form tangible, quantifiable outcomes and demonstrate benefits to customers that will set us apart from our competitors.  

What are the things that keep you up at night? What do you see as any barriers to success or the greatest challenges for your company/team right now?
As UK’s newly appointed Head of Display, I lead the display division within Samsung, reporting directly into our SEUK President. Our display division is made up of 58 staff members aligned into our four product category areas: LCD Monitor, Smart Signage (Large Format Display), LED and Hospitality TV. One of the key areas of responsibility for my role is people growth and development, as well as helping Samsung achieve their desired number one market position in each category.

Samsung is typically recognised in the UK as a consumer brand, but we are also a marketing-leading B2B solutions provider. This requires a lot of effort from across the entire business on positioning, as well as daily reinforcement from our teams to align as a true B2B brand. To establish Samsung as the number one vendor in all display technology sectors, one of our biggest challenges is improving our market share position across LCD Monitor and maintaining our reputation as a trusted technology partner for customers. 

What are you most excited about the industry in the near future? What are you looking forward to seeing?
The opportunity for display is huge. As we make significant strides towards LED technology capabilities, we will inevitably see this migrate to the smaller format sizes, which has a huge impact on how and where we can adopt display technology such as Samsung’s latest LED Signage, The Wall, which has led the market in micro-LED. 

Over the last four years, we have been able to grow the business over 130% and this wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for our amazing partner network. We are about to launch a new programme which we believe will elevate our standing within the network further. It will allow partners to grow from their training and technical expertise while also managing their commercial aspirations with Samsung 

This is something we are truly excited about – the opportunities are limitless when it comes to our channel and distributors.

What do you think sets your team/product/offering apart from others?
As a brand, we have amazing solutions and technology which gives us a brilliant platform for success. It is people however, that make the difference and differentiates Samsung from our competitors. I have inherited a phenomenally good group of people and I believe this is what sets my team apart from others. Samsung creates a wonderful culture which allows individuals to grow and flourish in a business that always looks to remain ahead as an industry leader. With that being said, the culture is created and maintained by the people, there is a collective desire to want the business to succeed and this mind-set is mirrored in the behaviours of our teams.

What advice would give young people trying to enter the industry now?
Just go for it! Display and AV is a market which is constantly evolving. The generation now entering the workforce are the first true digital generation who embrace and utilise technology in a different way than people of my generation. We need to harness this and understand how the younger generation’s ideas and expectations for working in technological environments best lends itself to all ages.  

At Samsung, we have just implemented an apprentice scheme to accompany our existing graduate programme. This is a great opportunity for younger people to enter work at the stage of live that works best for them. The opportunity for the AV market to offer a true and recognisable ‘trade’ is something we need to work together to achieve.

What motivates you?
A deep-rooted desire to constantly improve and move forward. I am never really satisfied which is a blessing and a curse. This has been a huge advantage for me from a work perspective, wanting to get the most out of myself but most importantly, the brilliant teams I have around me. 

I like to think we can always improve, I expect that of myself and challenge those around me to expect the same from themselves and their peers. This must be tailored on a personal and professional level to enjoy where we are, where we have come from and what we have achieved. This is something I have to really work on as it is my nature to press on and push, but it is important, particularly in my new role, to celebrate the successes and recognise the great strides we make as individuals, teams and a business.

What do you enjoy doing out of work?
Outside of work, I am the coach of my son’s U9 football team, which I thoroughly enjoy. Prior to that, I was also a Governor at my children’s primary school, where I was responsible for Physical Education and after-school programmes. Both my children are active in sport and dance, and the importance of children having an outlet for sport, or the arts, is a big driver for me. Personally, I was very fortunate to have been given many opportunities from participating in sport, which has made a huge impact on my life and provided me opportunities that without sport I wouldn’t have had. This is why I am extremely passionate about physical activity, especially with my children, which allows me to connect with the wider community and plays an active part of their upbringing.