Celebrating 25 years of NDS with Willie Jan Bons – CEO


Celebrating 25 years of NDS with Willie Jan Bons - CEO and Product Owner

Last week, Jeroen introduced us to the world of our PADS4 Server. Not been able to read last weeks interview yet? You can find it here. This week we continue our expert series with someone who knows all about data connections and their role within PADS4. Curious to find out more? Continue reading!

Next in line: our CEO and Product Owner for our Development team Willie Jan Bons.

Q: So tell us, how did it all start for you?

My journey at NDS started 23 years ago. In the summer of ’96 I started working at NDS as a software developer. I was the second software developer they hired, and had the pleasure to start working with my former schoolmate and our current CFO, Arthur Damen.

Q: Let's talk about data connections. How important are they for NDS and PADS4? And if we are talking about ‘rules’ within data connections, how do they fit in?

Data connections have always been an important factor within PADS4, we’ve been using them from the very start. Since our first assignment as a company was developing software specifically for airport displays (FIDS), PADS1.0 used data connections to display flight information. With this first data connection, colors were linked to the status of a flight. For example, if the boarding process had started, the text on the airport displays would turn green and would start blinking. While looking at the displays, you did not want to see your flight in red, that would mean your flight had been cancelled.

Looking at the ‘rules’ within our software, they’ve also been with us since the beginning. Rules make our software dynamic. It creates the opportunity to automatically respond to changes from outside. The data connection then transports the change to our software, to make a visible change on your displays. For instance, it can respond to the weather from your exact location. When the temperature drops below a certain degree, advertisements about ice creams can be changed to advertisements about hot chocolate.

All those years ago, the PADS4 Designer was already developed. Within the Designer, rules could be set to determine what would happen to the content that was playing on the screens. We were the only company back then who had a solution like that. Other companies were still hardware based, which meant that new software had to be installed on an Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory (also called an EPROM), and physically be placed within the hardware system. As you can imagine this was a time-consuming task.

So to answer your questions, you can definitely say that data connections have always been important for us.

Q: How did data connections change PADS4?

The data connection features the NDS development team created, formed PADS4 into the platform it is today. A technical background is not needed to start using PADS4, data connections can easily be connected. PADS4 makes it fairly simple to transform the data that already exists in your organization into readable information that can be displayed on screens. Without all the data connections, PADS4 would not be the data-driven platform it is today.

Q: Since you’ve been with NDS for a very long time, what was the first data connection you build and how did this connection come to life?

Maybe it is not one of the most interesting data connections, but XML is definitely a very important one. It became a generic, worldwide connection that has been used quite often. It was an important connection for us to add to our portfolio, since it could be used in a wide variety of solutions.

Q: How did the changes in data connections affect your job and position at NDS?

As mentioned before, NDS started with the software for airport displays. This allowed us to grow as a company. For myself, this meant I could grow into the CEO function that I have now. Since our company grew, more people joined us. With more people on our team, we started using the Scrum framework to organize our activities. With this framework, I could expand my work activities and became a Product Owner for our development team.

Q: What do you think data connections will be like in the future? Is there a specific data connection you would like to add to the PADS4 platform?

When you look at the future, I believe two trends will become important; the first is Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the second is Internet of Things (IoT). These two will influence the automation of information. Based on Big Data, decisions can be made to display certain messages, making human interference needless. Since we as NDS still want to be around with PADS4 in the future, we have to make sure to incorporate trends such as these into PADS4 as well. In this industry, we have to stay up-to-date and innovative to stay relevant.

Q: If you look at features that resulted from data connections, which one are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of all the features that make PADS4 unique. The fact that data connections are woven into the entire platform, gives our customers the ability to visualize their data everywhere and anytime. During essential moments, our customers can count on PADS4. Every digital signage manufacturer can build an image carousel, but our software PADS4 shows some fine programming techniques.

Q: Why would you recommend PADS4 to people who are looking for a digital signage solution?

Our software easily transforms existing data to usable information. Not only does PADS4 transform the data into something usable, it also allows the people who use it to adapt it to their personal wishes. Technical knowledge can come in handy, but it’s not a requirement. Everyone can start with the basics. It’s a very accessible solution in the digital signage industry.

And that wraps up our second expert interview. We would like to thank Willie Jan for the time he spared for us and for the knowledge he shared. We look forward to next week, where another expert will talk us through his expertise. Will we be seeing you next week?