Q&A with Rick Clarkson on his return to Signiant and new product ideas

A bunch of windows on a building.

Signiant recently welcomed back Rick Clarkson to the fold to fill the newly created position of Chief Strategy Officer. Rick was VP of Product Management and with Signiant for 8 years during his first tour. I wanted to sit down with Rick and hear about what’s changed since he left, both in the industry and at Signiant. He was kind enough to appease my curiosity and answer a few questions.

MC: What has changed the most since you left Signiant?

RC: Well, we launched Media Shuttle in 2012 and it was the first SaaS file acceleration solution on the market. When I left in November of 2015, we were really still ramping up Media Shuttle. Every new customer was a slog. Trying to educate them on SaaS and the cloud, what it meant and why it was good for their business was difficult. Slowly, they were getting it but it was really hard.

You know the concept of crossing the chasm in terms of a product adoption life cycle? It’s the most difficult step, when you’re trying to move from early adopters to adoption by a majority of your target users. A lot of companies never get across that chasm. But when that happens, you are on that upwards growth. When I left, we were still trying to cross the chasm with Media Shuttle and now we’ve definitely crossed.

It’s an amazing difference. We went from customers being wary of SaaS and cloud in general to knowing that if you don’t have SaaS and an overall cloud strategy, you’re at a disadvantage. You have to have it.

MC: Can you give me an example?

RC: Last week, we went to a customer meeting with one of the largest media companies in the world. A very senior executive was giving the opening presentation. I wrote down what he said because it was so perfect. He said, “Here’s what we’re trying to accomplish today. We want to figure out how to move to the cloud, how to automate it and we’ve picked AWS as our partner.”

Of course, since our solutions integrate with AWS, we are central to that strategy. That’s why we were there. But it just amazes me because a few years ago, a lot of the top players in the industry didn’t see a real reason to invest in cloud and now it is a top priority.

MC: What’s most exciting about being back?

RC: The footprint for Media Shuttle is really growing and of course the whole Media & Entertainment industry is interconnected. So, in a lot of cases, it’s really selling itself because people have had experience using it when working with other businesses.

But I’m most excited about developing new services and companion services to ride along with the success of Media Shuttle. These were ideas I first thought of more than three years ago, but we decided the market wasn’t ready for them at the time. When I began talking with Margaret (Signiant’s CEO) about returning, she said, “You know those ideas you pitched a few years ago, people are asking for those things now.”

We envisioned these services years ago, but the timing wasn’t right. Today, the market has progressed the way we hoped it would, and now it’s time.

MC: Have been able to move forward with those new product ideas?

RC: Yes. I’ve been spending most of my time on what I call customer discovery, meeting with lots of customers about some of these new ideas and getting their feedback. I want to really understand their needs and tighten down some of the requirements. Basically, I go in with a plan and they help me refine it. And so far, the feedback has been really helpful and positive. They are excited about these ideas too. We’ve got some awesome things we want to do.

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