DisplayNote’s CEO Paul Brown Talks Post-Pandemic Expectations

quotePaul Brown is the CEO of technology company DisplayNote. He founded the company back in 2012 with the ambition of making collaboration better for the world’s educators and presenters. Paul opened up about his experience of leading the company through a pandemic  — the ups and downs — and what the future holds for DisplayNote.

As an organization, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced over the last 12 months?

I think one of the main challenges or concerns in the first few weeks of lockdown was about our employees. I felt I had a duty of care to them, to preserve jobs and avoid redundancies at all costs. So there was a great sense of relief when the Chancellor announced the Furlough Scheme — it gave reassurance that people would be looked after and provided space to think more about the business structure. There was also the fear of the unknown. We had to act to preserve the business we had collectively worked so hard to establish. Revenue, cash flow and debtors were all topics of conversation.

Have there been any silver linings from the whole experience?

I think it has created a real sense of affinity and camaraderie within the team. We’ve also benefited from the robustness of the education sector over the past year. Month by month, we have seen growth and unexpected use cases for our products as a result of the pandemic. It’s helped give us a new perspective and new direction for our product development.

How have you personally found the past 12 months?

I know my experience will not have been shared by everyone, but after the initial panic subsided, there was a novelty or charm to the whole thing. There was a kind of calmness. We were able to reconnect in a way that is normally reserved for summer holidays. However, I think there was a general consensus that the second lockdown was mentally more taxing than the first. The long, dark nights in Northern Ireland and the fact it was nearly a year seemed to compound everything.

Do you think the company has changed as a result of the pandemic?

We’re a lot more deliberate with our communication now. Video calls can be draining, so everyone gets to the point and tries to keep things concise. The past year has shown us we’re able to work just as effectively from home, which has prompted the move to a remote-first working policy. We’re no longer restricted to hiring talent within a 20-mile radius of the office – it presents us with a real opportunity to cast our net even further when it comes to finding the right people.

What changes do you expect to see in the AV industry in the next few years? How do you think this will impact your direction as a company?

Meeting rooms and education spaces are currently very hardware-centric spaces. It’s software like ours that helps to bring the equipment together and provides utility for the end user. I think the pandemic will create a demand for more user-friendly collaboration spaces where people can share content from their laptops and launch video calls from their mobile phones. People want technology that is familiar and accessible; there will be an opportunity to leverage BYOD and BYOM even more. As more and more people choose to work from home, AV integrators will have to consider the home office and the opportunity that exists there as employees opt to professionalize their home setup. Going forward, I think we need to move beyond the front-of-room display and think about how people want to present their content in a remote-hybrid world as well, whether they’re in a physical meeting space or not. Blended and distanced learning will continue to grow, and there will be an opportunity to support collaboration in these environments.