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The Sophisticated Strategist: An interview with Linda Hofflander

Linda Hofflander

Being well-rounded is an attribute that takes time and effort to attain, and experience must be gained in a variety of settings over noteworthy intervals in order to achieve such a distinctive trait. Having worked in technology for over 25 years, almost half of those in digital signage, Linda Hofflander, Director of Vertical Marketing in the Enterprise Business Division of Samsung Electronics America, has the time requirement of an all-around individual covered, and a skill set to match.

Linda graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Economics and was brought into digital signage through the retail-marketing agency, John Ryan Company. There, Linda applied her interest in the speed of communication by optimizing a customer’s visit to financial institutions through instructive digital ads. “A picture is worth a thousand words and as you grow up, you realize this is true,” said Linda confidently. Moreover, she has found that when using digital technology, “shaving off 75% of unnecessary messaging in an ad will allow a brand to sell, educate or entertain quickly, while improving consumer engagement at the same time.”

As Vice President and CMO at Wireless Ronin Technologies, Linda became familiar with the software side of DOOH media and sat on the board of the original Digital Screenmedia Association. She has also been a board member of the Digital Signage Federation and Digital Signage Expo, the latter at which she has spoken for the past seven years. An entrepreneur at heart, the tactician also owned her own digital signage consulting company.

“My consultative nature and background is how I ended up at Samsung, which completes my circle of buying, selling and developing new technological strategies,” said Linda. “My move to Samsung was spurred by its quality IT products and interoperable portfolio extending from LFDs and displays to PCs, tablets and printers. Now, with a tap of my tablet to a printer, I can print a document through NFC. Furthermore, mobile integration asserts that customer-facing messaging with smart technology will be at the heart of the digital signage business.”

Linda’s role at Samsung calls for a well-rounded pacesetter to preside over all IT products through a vertical perspective that takes trends and pain points into account so as to develop tailored solutions that can enhance the success of businesses in each venue. “There’s a lot going on in digital signage at the moment but the industry is not recession-proof,” cautioned Linda. “As more vertical-specific technologies become available, we will see growth.”

Linda enthusiastically explained several of her findings in the retail vertical, such as how companies are combining in-store and ecommerce tactics with different sized devices so that the store will still be credited if a purchase is made online. An example of this is how an Adidas NEO outlet in Germany gives window shopping a new meaning by using outdoor Samsung touchscreen displays and allowing consumers to purchase clothing after hours without even entering the store.

I asked Linda if she could pinpoint occurrences or features contributing to her digital signage stature, begetting a robust reply. A self-proclaimed scenario planner, Linda finds that many decisions are based on a set of assumptions, so she always develops multiple strategies in the event a business plan must turn on a dime (and they almost always do). She also suggests that fellow players in the industry need to understand the ever-changing market and avoid getting caught up in busy work that doesn’t result in progress if they want to remain viable players in the marketplace.

“When I began my career in digital signage in the late 90’s, the industry was divided into silos and a customer would need multiple partners to deploy a project. Today the field is more consolidated, and while systems integrators have mastered the art of pulling all necessary pieces together, a network operator can contact just about any DOOH vendor and be presented with a turnkey solution.”

“I’m committed to the industry and take pride in delivering relevant products (device, multi-device, solutions) and services,” Linda added. “Digital signage didn’t take off as quickly as many of us hoped it would back in the day, but prices have dropped, software and intelligence have improved and the story keeps being enriched.”

About Linda

Linda Hofflander is Director of Vertical Marketing with Samsung’s Enterprise Business Division, where she has more than 25 years experience in the consulting, business development, technology and communication industries. She specializes in strategic planning as it relates to the business case, design, deployment and maintenance of digital screen media networks. Before joining Samsung, she served as chief strategy officer of The Handa Group, where she drove strategic planning and work plans for digital screen media network deployers/end-users and providers of hardware, software and services. Past experience includes senior-level and executive positions with Saddle Ranch Digital, Wireless Ronin Technologies Inc. and John Ryan Performance.

Hofflander is a noted public speaker on digital screen media, digital signage, digital menu boards and interactive touch screens. She also provides coaching and strategic planning support to executives, organizational leaders and employees in harnessing the power of technology-based solutions. Her personal work passion is the integration of technologies into digital screen media networks. She served on the Digital Signage Expo (DSE) Board, and was the advisory board co-chair of the Government and Legislative Affairs Committee of the Digital Signage Federation (DSF). Currently she is an active Board member of the Digital Screenmedia Association (DSA).