Date posted: November 18, 2014

PointCloud Media develops unique projection architecture driven though ProVideoPlayer2 software to entertain hotel guests year-round

The Sheraton Waikiki in Honolulu launched its Helumoa Playground Superpool series earlier this fall, comprising two distinct 3D pool mapping light show stories presented twice every evening to entertain hotel guests and the general public.  Billed as the world’s first permanent installation of its kind, the 3D pool mapping shows are projected across a 7,503-square foot pool canvas, demonstrating lively displays of volcanic eruptions in “Helumoa – the birth of Hawaii”; and the rise of historical Hawaiian resorts and water sports in “Helumoa – the legendary story of Waikiki.”

The Sheraton Waikiki hired PointCloud Media, a full-service production company specializing in 3D projections, to develop innovative, energized shows featuring graphic figures and images projected onto the nearly 200,000 gallon superpool.  The PointCloud solution integrates its core Raylight4D mapping system—responsible for superimposing visual content on the pool to mesmerizing effect—with seven ultra-bright projectors and reliable, cost-efficient playback software from Renewed Vision.

An overhead view of PointCloud Media’s 3D pool mapping projection, driven by Renewed Vision ProVideoPlayer 2 software

The integration of Renewed Vision’s ProVideoPlayer 2 (PVP2) software is significant as it drives playback for all seven projectors from two Mac Pro computers, saving PointCloud Media tens of thousands of dollars in comparison to expensive hardware-based packages.  Additionally, PVP2 simplifies the overall workflow, allowing PointCloud Media to automate playout and quickly adjust show schedules in the event of inclement weather or special circumstances.

“Over the years, we have used many different servers to augment video projections on large buildings, and they were all very complicated to operate, requiring real experts,” said Jack Hattingh, president, PointCloud Media.  “The Renewed Vision PVP2 software reliably plays out all content from a stable platform, without the expense of purchasing or renting a system and hiring a full-time operator.  I can purchase PVP2 software and a Mac Pro for the price of a three-week rental of most competing products.  Being a permanent installation, the return on investment with PVPV2 is nearly immediate.”

The end-to-end architecture includes five rooftop Barco HDQ-2K40 40,000 lumen projectors positioned 320 feet in the air to project visual content onto the pool, along with two 20,000 lumen projectors at ground level to project visuals onto adjacent rock formations.  The workflow starts with a 4000×4000 content file for the pool map and a 3840×1080 file for the rock formations.  A Mac Pro running PVP2 at each location slices the 4000×4000 file into five separate 1920×1080 feeds with mild overlap.  The fluid pool reflections and surrounding ambiance add an element of reality to the custom 3D mapping projections.

“PVP2 allows us to fine-tune the mappings on the fly to create the best convergence between the projected images,” said Hattingh.  “Its advanced rending engine, coupled with the power and reliability of the Mac Pro, enables smooth playback of the massive video file across all five outputs.  PVP2 is also allowing us to create some unusual projections, as we’re blending from four corners geometrically rather than top to bottom or left to right.  PVP2’s flexibility has made it easy to create a unique mosaic map with plenty of light that audiences can enjoy.”

The master system on the roof is connected to the second rock projection system 31 stories below via a fiber-optic connection, with all content triggered simultaneously from both PVP2 servers.  As each show begins, PVP2 triggers a contact closure relay to change the sound system from the standard background music service to the PVP2 audio feed.  A third Mac Pro system outfitted with PVP2 supports a hotel broadcast on Channel 37, with viewers able to enjoy a live cut of the pool projections at the moment the light show music begins.

PointCloud Media representatives routinely monitor the system from their offices near Dallas to ensure everything is working properly, with the ability to stop, pause, restart and reschedule shows as needed.  A third, holiday-themed show is now in development, given the success of the first two shows.  Additionally, the simple learning curve of the system will allow hotel staff to use the system for other business opportunities as desired.

“PVP2 and the rest of system is very easy to learn and operate, so the hotel can easily use this for conferences and other themed events by the poolside,” said Hattingh.  “Furthermore, they can easily gain an additional return on investment by renting the system to businesses and clients.”

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Date posted: September 8, 2014

Ross Brand-it becomes second Bannister Lake software solution specifically designed for Ross customers

Bannister Lake’s strategic relationship with Ross Video continues this week at IBC2014, as Ross introduces a new branding solution based on Bannister Lake’s broadcast automation software.  The out-of-the-box solution provides Ross with a solution that is simple to integrate, giving their customers an out-of-the-box on-air branding solution that is easy to use and navigate.

Called XPression Brand-it, the new solution brings the power of Bannister Lake’s Brando to the Ross Video XPression graphic production workflow. BL Brando is a data-rich, web-based software solution that simplifies how broadcasters dynamically incorporate and continuously update bugs, promos, snipes, sponsor messages, social media hashtags, and other branding elements within one or more program streams.

In the Ross Video workflow, Brand-it will help XPression users more efficiently create, schedule and manage unique branding content for multiple channels.  Configurations are available for both single-channel TV stations and multi-channel broadcast networks, ensuring a solution for broadcasters of any size and scale.

“The introduction of Brand-it extends the long-term relationship between Ross Video and Bannister Lake, following on the spring introduction of Tick-it, a Ross-branded ticker and branding solution based on Bannister Lake’s Super Ticker software,” said Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake.  “The tight integration between Ross and Bannister Lake technology ensures that Ross customers have complete, highly interoperable solutions for automated on-air branding and graphics.”

Brand-it also supports an unlimited number of graphic designers and production schedulers depending on operational needs. Web-based content authoring tools also enable multiplatform, web-based content authoring for users across fixed and mobile devices, including traditional desktop workstations, laptops and tablets. This capability, along with tighter integration across traffic and automation systems, ensures that users can flexibly schedule branding content months in advance, or make on-the-fly changes up until moments before airtime.

Visitors to the Ross Video stand (9.C23) can see a full demonstration of XPression Brand-it at the IBC 2014 Show, taking place September 12-16 at the RAI Exhibition Centre in Amsterdam.

Date posted: September 3, 2014

Company will demonstrate cloud-based, software-defined monitoring solutions at IBC 2014 – and what broadcasters gain by transitioning from point-based systems

For its IBC show debut, Q’ligent will present a strong case about how broadcasters can shift linear TV QoS to the next level through a transition to enterprise-level monitoring and visualization.  Using Q’ligent’s portfolio of cloud-based solutions, broadcasters can quickly establish a highly scalable architecture that extends visibility into linear TV performance through to the often neglected last mile.

“We have seen this successful paradigm shift in many other technology areas, where end users have transitioned from expensive, proprietary point-based monitoring solutions to lower cost, feature-rich and broad application-based software solutions that cover the gamut, from predictive analysis of performance issues to prescribed courses of action. Q’ligent intends to drive that change in the broadcast industry,” said Ted Korte, COO, Q’ligent.

Q’ligent’s Vision monitoring solution will be a central force in driving that change.  Q’ligent has established a global footprint that allows the company to quickly deploy monitoring services for broadcast networks based on the Vision architecture.  Lightweight and intelligent, Vision brings together an intuitive and limitless service that centralizes all critical media analysis of one or more distributed channels onto a single web user interface, with infinite scalability to expand monitoring points using software-defined, network-enabled probes.  Q’ligent provides this service across multiple delivery platforms, ensuring broadcasters can understand how their linear TV broadcasts are performing end-to-end across terrestrial, cable, satellite and IPTV systems.

Vision’s comprehensive feature set provides QoS (quality of service) and QoE (quality of experience) monitoring, which includes predictive analysis tools and insight into performance trends that pinpoint potential signal delivery issues.  Vision also offers root-cause analysis tools, enhanced recommendations for prescribed actions, and techniques to resolve issues in a proactive and actionable manner.

A major differentiator for Vision is that it brings affordability to monitoring last mile performance. Last mile analytics ensures broadcasters understand the complete picture of what their viewers are experiencing on their TV sets, computers and mobile devices.

“Vision’s unique characteristics and architectural footprint reduces costs and creates action-based real-time root cause analysis,” adds Korte.  “Vision’s software-driven probes have limitless expandability throughout the network, and offers broadcasters and network operators a financially viable method to finally gain direct analytical access at the last mile.

Q’ligent will demonstrate Vision alongside its complete range of enterprise monitoring and visualization solutions at its IBC stand in Hall 8 (Stand 8.D03).  IBC takes place at the RAI Exhibition Center in Amsterdam from September 12-16.

Date posted: August 20, 2014

New software solution broadens scope for innovative Super Ticker solutions, covering all operations from call letter stations to large multichannel networks

CAMBRIDGE, ON, Canada, August 20, 2014BL Super Ticker, the robust content management and playout solution from Bannister Lake, has long been a leading choice for lightning-fast delivery of on-air graphics and data in Canada.  Bannister Lake is now bringing the workflow experience of Super Ticker to a wider North American audience with BL Super Ticker Solo, a full version of the tried-and-true software in a single-channel only configuration.  BL Super Ticker Solo reduces the hardware but retains its predecessor’s powerful feature set.

An example of data output across on-air graphics via Bannister Lake’s Super Ticker Solo

The streamlined Super Ticker Solo boils down the multichannel approach for call letter stations and other single-channel TV operations.  While the original Super Ticker architecture networks a master server with multiple, and sometimes geographically distributed players, Super Ticker Solo localizes the creative power and data-flow flexibility within a compact, single-box solution—lowering the cost of entry for local TV stations, cable access channels and small broadcast networks.  Super Ticker Solo also keeps the clean, intuitive interface to maintain ease of use, as well as limitless output and independent content zones for a high-quality, engaging and professional on-air look that plays out across many consumer devices.

“Super Ticker Solo eliminates the server overhead of Super Ticker that, while very affordable for multichannel applications, is impractical for smaller broadcast and cable stations that don’t require more than one channel,” said Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake.  “Super Ticker Solo reduces the footprint to a 3RU chassis that is simple to integrate.  Yet, it leverages the same powerful software to creatively and reliably produce, manage and playout anything from simple news tickers and lower-third data crawls; to active, dynamic graphics and animations across multiple screen zones.”

Call letter stations can still benefit from the multi-user capability that differentiates Super Ticker from competitive systems, allowing many operators to use Super Ticker Solo across the workflow for separate graphics creation and content management functions.  Production teams benefit from a similar blend of creativity and management through an ability to combine original editorial content with automated data retrieval.  This operational freedom enables users to reliably automate playout of up-to-date news feeds, stock tickers, sports scores, weather conditions and more, while mixing in unique branded content customized for specific viewing audiences—such as revenue-generating sponsor messages.

Collectively, Super Ticker and Super Ticker Solo cover the gamut from the most modest broadcast operations to the largest networks, with both versions able to dynamically scale output using a time-based, automated rundown; or enable users to manually shift gears to very specifically address quickly changing program needs.

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Date posted: August 6, 2014

New BL Brando 2.0 software enhances how broadcasters create, schedule and manage branding elements for single and multichannel playout architectures

CAMBRIDGE, ON, Canada, August 6, 2014 — Graphics automation specialist Bannister Lake has released the second generation of BL Brando, a data-rich, web-based software solution that simplifies how broadcasters dynamically incorporate and continuously update bugs, promos, snipes, sponsor messages, social media hashtags, and other branding elements within one or more program streams.

As the market leading solution in Canada, Brando has enhanced how the largest Canadian broadcasters create, schedule and manage unique branding content for multiple channels.  The second-generation Brando release extends its reach across the workflow—including tighter integration with traffic and automation systems—and adds an alternate version tailored for single-channel operations.  Called BL Brando Solo, this single-box solution includes all the power of Brando while reducing the cost and infrastructure for U.S. call letter stations and TV operations that only require branding for one channel.

The second-generation of BL Brando includes two versions: one for larger broadcast networks, and a second lighter version, BL Brando Solo, for single-channel TV operations

Importantly, the new single and multi-channel configurations both retain the trademark ease of use that differentiates the initial Brando release from competitive automated branding solutions. This covers everything from graphics design, data integration and scheduling triggers to more advanced workflow-centric applications, such as direct support for editing resources; and reconciliation of content and scheduling changes between graphics and master control.  The latter feature, which automates publishing of such changes across the workflow, is especially useful for branding elements like sponsor messages and cross-channel promotions that are associated with monetization.

“Many graphics automation solutions, particularly for branding, require that end users communicate changes to the supplier in order to accommodate updates and expansions, increasing costs and implementation times,” said Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake.  “Brando eliminates that complexity at the end user level by integrating tools that simplify how end users can make adjustments as branding requirements evolve.  This ensures that our customers can optimize their branding workflows for ongoing use without hindering progress or affecting the bottom line.”

As with the initial Brando release, the new version also supports an unlimited number of graphic designers and production schedulers depending on operational needs. Web-based content authoring tools also enable multiplatform, web-based content authoring for users across fixed and mobile devices, including traditional desktop workstations, laptops and tablets.  This ensures that users can flexibly schedule content months in advance, or make on-the-fly changes up until moments before airtime.

A complete list of new Brando features for the second-generation release can be found at:  http://bannisterlake.com/Products/Brando/Brando2.0

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Date posted: May 1, 2014

Bannister Lake introduces dedicated software application for GV Director, amplifying graphics workflow capabilities for live sports production

Bannister Lake announces the release of BL Score Bug for the GV Director Nonlinear Live Production System from Grass Valley, a Belden Brand.  This new version of Bannister Lake’s Score Bug software was custom written specifically for GV Director to enhance its sports graphics environment—accelerating time-to-air with visually engaging, data-rich score bugs that keep fans in the game. BL Score Bug is a real-time scoring and game status display system designed for live sports broadcasts.

GV Director emphasizes creativity and smart workflows, integrating video switching, multi-layer effects, animated graphics and more into a single, compact solution.  BL Score Bug for GV Director reliably pulls live game data from industry-leading scoreboard controllers like Daktronics, Whiteways, and OES combining the data with the output of a sport-specific graphical user interface (GUI), and using that data to drive GV Director’s professional, animated graphics.

BL Score Bug software can be purchased and downloaded from the Bannister Lake website.  Once installed on a Windows PC, a simple configuration screen provides connectivity to the supported scoreboard controllers and control over the graphic elements distributed with GV Director.

“We are excited to partner with Bannister Lake on this customized tool for GV Director.  This adds yet another feature to our already rich set of live production tools within GV Director. BL Score Bug provides operators with the ability to keep up with the fast pace on game day for sports events of any size or type. Ultimately, this broadens the breadth and depth of GV Director for our customers,” said Mike Cronk, senior vice president of strategic marketing, Grass Valley.

BL Score Bug will seamlessly integrate across the GV Director workflow to further simplify and empower live production operations.  The company has also developed special graphic templates to correlate with various score bug configurations—giving everyone in live production (teams, broadcasters, venues, mobile trucks) a cost-efficient, all-in-one score bug solution for any sport.

Georg Hentsch, president, Bannister Lake, notes that GV Director operators are accustomed to flexible workflows—making Bannister Lake’s open, easy-to-use score bug software a perfect fit.

“BL Score Bug is a proven solution for sports broadcasters at every level from high school teams to professional teams,” said Hentsch.  “The integration with GV Director adds to the growing desire for data-rich score bug capability to an already feature-rich and powerful live production system.”

 

Date posted: September 24, 2013

Manual Commercial Scheduling Soon a Relic of the Past

During its annual October conference, The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), which hosts one of the media industry’s most intensive technology gatherings, will announce SMPTE’s Broadcast eXchange Format (BXF) 3.0, a significant breakthrough in commercial scheduling for broadcasters, advertising agencies and advertisers.  BXF 3.0 will automate the time-stealing data entry process (re-keying of traffic instructions) that has been in place for more than 50 years.

For years, ad agencies and broadcasters have focused on the media buy (known as the order) and invoice.  Yet scheduling the commercial, the most critical step to ensure a spot airs correctly, is still an entirely manual process.  Industry experts Christopher Lennon of MediAnswers and Angela Tietze of Entertainment Communications Network (ECN) will present Faxes, Emails, Pagers, and the Macarena:  Adios to Relics of the ‘90s.  Both will delve into one of the advertising and media industries’ least talked about workflows, which today relies on dated technology:  TRAFFIC.

Chris Lennon of MediAnswers

Currently, once a commercial has been produced, ad agencies assign it a commercial code (Ad-ID) and create traffic instructions advising broadcasters when, where and how to air it.  Typically, traffic instructions are distributed to stations and networks via fax or email, and the commercial information is re-typed by hand into the traffic system.  It takes valuable time to re-key the data and underscores the inevitability of errors.   That’s where SMPTE’s Broadcast eXchange Format (BXF) 3.0 comes in.

Angela Tietze of ECN

 

Lennon and Tietze spent the past 18 months working with a group of industry professionals to create a standard within BXF that will enable traffic instructions to be ingested electronically into traffic systems at stations and networks, automating commercial scheduling using XML.  The result will be no more manual data entry and faster time-to-air for advertisers, while significantly reducing discrepancies and make goods.

Contact Chris Lennon (clennon@medianswers.tv) or Angela Tietze (atietze@ecnmedia.com) for more information on Faxes, emails, pagers, and The Macarena:  Adios to Relics of the ‘90s, to be presented at the SMPTE 2013 Annual Technical Conference (Loews Hollywood Hotel, Hollywood, Calif., October 22-24).

 

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Date posted: March 27, 2013

MediAnswers brings media management vision to vendors, integrators and end users across multiple industries

The launch of a consulting firm during the NAB Show buildup appears typical on the surface, but it is rare to have two well-known industry names like Chris Lennon and Peter Storer at its core.  This is the case with MediAnswers, a new global company focused on media management and workflow optimization for broadcast and beyond.

Lennon and Storer bring a long history of software and workflow-oriented expertise that will help their customers work more efficiently and save money.  Lennon notes that MediAnswers was built to address what often seem like insurmountable tasks in streamlining media operations.  This includes helping broadcasters and non-traditional media users integrate their media assets and systems more smoothly, touching everything from video and audio to print and “big data”.

For broadcasters, it is especially challenging where multiplatform delivery is involved.   “There is tremendous pressure now for broadcasters to optimize spots and programs across all these different distribution platforms, from over the air to over the top,” said Lennon, president and CEO.  “Small inefficiencies become multiplied in these situations.  We exist to help organizations step back and take a holistic view of the entire workflow instead of focusing on one problem.”

Most media consultants focus on expertise in equipment and facility construction.  MediAnswers instead brings expertise starting from program acquisition and ad agency commercial management all the way through the entire media workflow to the transmission point.

Storer, who serves as MediAnswers’ Executive Vice President, believes that MediAnswers is ideally equipped to serve all types of organizations, broadcast and otherwise, as they transition from primarily hardware-driven to software-centric operations.

“This is a process fraught with challenges for vendors and their customers alike,” said Storer.  “These organizations are tasked with learning to manage and organize large media resources, capture and reflect the appropriate metadata, and incorporate it into their everyday workflows and archives.  These day-to-day media management aspects are critical to what broadcasters, and to another degree, other non-traditional media companies are experiencing.”

Lennon’s long and successful career with Harris Broadcast, Encoda and Enterprise Systems, as well as his time as a broadcaster, perfectly blends with Storer’s ground-up success with leading program and contract rights management firm StorerTV.  Lennon points to his and Storer’s experience in standards development, including BXF (Broadcast eXchange Format), as one example of the unique skills they bring to such projects.

“BXF is a shining example of what can be accomplished in evaluating a broken ecosystem of media components, and bringing it all together for system-wide efficiency,” said Lennon.  “Our goal is to deliver workflow harmony and improve overall ROI by streamlining systems.  We help our customers achieve what they visualized when they originally decided to transition to software-centric workflows.”

Chris Lennon and Peter Storer can be reached at clennon@medianswers.tv and pstorer@medianswers.tv.

Date posted: March 26, 2013

UNIV software engineers and system architects specialize in creating workflows that are the basis of OTT and IPTV projects

Unified Video Technologies (UNIV), specialists in developing, integrating and operating complete high-performance media and broadcast ecosystems for broadcasters and enterprises, announces new in-house capabilities to design sophisticated software workflows that integrate format- and task-specific video applications.

The UNIV team now includes experienced software engineers and system architects with expertise in system design and who excel at scripting and coding in .net, Java and PHP.  This gives UNIV a unique position in the broadcast and media industries to create advanced, high-performance workflows and platforms that form the essential core of OTT and IPTV projects.

UNIV CEO Pablo Goldstein and CTO Ariel Matzkin (seated) work on a software workflow integration project at the company’s Miami office.

The UNIV team’s software-centric systems integration approach, which the company will introduce at the 2013 NAB Show (April 8-11, Las Vegas Convention Center, Booth 6321), unifies all content processing—regardless of how it is ingested or distributed—into a single workflow.  This ultimately enables content owners, media companies and broadcasters to consolidate resources, streamline processes and reduce costs.

“With the addition of talented system architects and software engineers to the UNIV team, we provide customers with the ability to seamlessly integrate all elements of their video ecosystem in a single integrated workflow.  This unique expertise enables UNIV to design and implement the solutions media companies need to compete in the new world of OTT and IPTV,” said Pablo Goldstein, CEO of Unified Video Technologies.  “UNIV is committed to providing expert, end-to-end solutions for our clients. Adding software integration capabilities is just one example of how we are executing on that commitment.”

Date posted: March 11, 2013

Industry’s first out-of-the-box business intelligence solution boosts data mining, analytical and mobile capabilities to capitalize on business opportunities today and tomorrow

Harris Broadcast enriches business intelligence for media executives and sales teams with new analytic tools that improve insight into current business and advertising models — and offer unparalleled foresight into future revenue-generating opportunities.

Harris Broadcast will introduce these and other new enhancements to its NetGain® business intelligence and analytics software at the 2013 NAB Show (April 8-11, Las Vegas Convention Center, Booth N2503).  The company will demonstrate new visual analytics, mobile dashboards, interfaces to social media data and access to embedded and third-party data mining capabilities as part of its new NetGain v2.4.2 release.

Through the new visual analytics capability, NetGain gives broadcasters and media organizations unique capabilities to proactively pull data from many sources, and quickly compare and analyze that data to fully understand current business landscapes through an intuitive visual interface.  Users can quickly publish the generated dashboards and reports to mobile devices, via e-mail or portal.  Meanwhile, new “visual foresight” tools leverage predictive analytics to help customers develop forward-looking metrics, from anticipated earnings to potential media buys for advertisements.

The latest release of Harris Broadcast’s NetGain business intelligence software integrates with more than 300 predefined data mining sources – ideal for building short- and long-term advertising strategies

NetGain v2.4.2 also incorporates the following new tools and benefits:

  • Access to Wisdom Professional for performing advanced analytics on Facebook user data.  This provides media companies with advanced capability to analyze viewing audiences and enhance advertising placement.
  • More than 300 predefined data mining and predictive analytics functions.
  • Integration with the open-source “R” analytics library, unleashing limitless access to analytics and statistics for business modeling.

NetGain integrates these new tools while retaining its ability to load data and generate reports with speed and efficiency, allowing customers to share business intelligence information locally or across the enterprise within minutes.  Furthermore, the wealth of information generated ensures that users can get a complete view of all available business opportunities.

“Broadcasters today need to optimize their inventories beyond over-the-air channels and across the web, mobile and other digital media opportunities,” said Harris Morris, CEO, Harris Broadcast.  “They also need to visualize the total trend versus looking separately at television spots versus digital.  NetGain ensures that broadcasters, cable networks and other media groups can achieve a complete view of their businesses as opposed to a ‘siloed’ approach,” while enabling visibility into future results based on multiple scenarios.”

Harris Broadcast now pre-integrates NetGain with its various traffic, billing, sales and scheduling platforms (OSi™, Novar™, Landmark™ and Vision™) as well as third-party data sources to maximize data sourcing and flexibility.  NetGain users can also now directly import data from Salesforce® (www.salesforce.com) to better track and measure advertising campaigns across multiple channels.

Additionally, the enhanced mobile capability provides a strong sales-enablement tool for account executives on the go.  This allows sales managers to arm their teams with easy-to-read, interactive dashboards on tablets and other mobile devices, simplifying customer presentations and detailing business performance.

“There are two clear benefits to NetGain’s enhanced mobile capability,” said Scott Criley, director, media and workflow, Harris Broadcast.  “Our customers can leverage the back office capability of NetGain to better understand the current situation and future opportunities in advance of client meetings.  For client presentations, NetGain efficiently makes clean reports, dashboards and marketing material accessible from a mobile interface, making it an ideal tool for revenue generation in the field.”

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