"IT security is one of the biggest industry challenges".

The globally active M-Cube Group achieved 25 per cent growth in turnover in 2022. M-Cube won several new global contracts, including one of the largest in the company's history. In the invidis interview, Manlio Romanelli, President of M-Cube, explains how the demands on digital signage integrators are changing in terms of IT security.
Manlio Romanelli, President M-Cube Group (Foto: M-Cube)
Manlio Romanelli, President M-Cube Group (Foto: M-Cube)

Despite the energy crisis, the Ukraine war and the continued unreliability of supply chains, the past year 2022 developed better than planned. At the end of the year, M-Cube can not only report an organic growth in turnover of over 25%, but also the winning of a mega project with an other world wide customer. The new customer will bring M-Cube an additional two-digit turnover from 2023 onwards during the contract period.

For 2023, Manlio Romanelli, founder of M-Cube and now President of the international group, expects a similar level of organic growth. At the company’s headquarters in Italy, the M-Cube is confident that it will be able to win further major contracts in the automotive and energy sectors this year.

M-Cube would like to see more speed in the consolidation process in the industry. The player would have liked to close some transactions in 2022, but especially in the second half of the year enteprise valuations fell so sharply worldwide that some transactions could not be closed for the time being. But there are some acquisitions running for first half of 2023.

Demands on IT security increase immensely

For a long time, IT security played only a subordinate role in digital signage projects. In times of silo installations, dedicated on-premise servers and separate network infrastructure, cyberattack risks were negligible. But modern digital signage systems are data-driven, fully networked with backend systems and a potential gateway for hackers. Penetration tests have become the norm on the customer side, and recently cyber-security insurance companies have also had a say in the tendering process.

For Manlio Romanelli, President of the M-Cube Group, IT security is one of the biggest challenges for digital signage providers. In the past, the market has neglected IT security issues. With increasing cyberattacks, large end customers are also demanding modern IT security management systems from digital signage providers. M-Cube has been investing in quality management, data security and IT security for more than ten years. But it is only in the pandemic that enterprise customers have become more demanding about IT security. Smaller market players can hardly meet the expensive certifications and requirements. „We are replacing smaller digital signage integrators, especially in the luxury sector, who cannot meet the new IT security requirements.“

Processes and certifications necessary for each national company

Like M-Cube, the large digital signage integrators have grown organically and through acquisitions. The big challenges after a takeover are not only to standardise products and services and to live a common corporate culture, but also to standardise processes.

Since 2012, the quality management of each M-Cube national subsidiary has been certified according to ISO 9001, and since 2019 also data protection (GDPR). IT security management certification (ISO 27001) is currently on the agenda for all companies.

M-Cube appoints Information Security Officer

Since the beginning of the year, M-Cube has had an Information Security Officer responsible for the entire group. The ISO reports directly to the President and acts independently of the CIO. The development of a certified IT security management system up to the appointment of an Information Security Officer (ISO) was far more time-consuming than planned. „It was a multi-year and very time-consuming project. The IT architecture from players and sensors to the cloud is complex in digital signage. Especially because M-Cube historically runs a system landscape with different CMS, operating systems and hardware platforms.“

Some older and exotic Windows systems were replaced with new, standardised Linux players at its own expense as part of IT security. „Ongoing increasing cyber attacks on customers‘ IT systems increases the pressure also on digital signage providers enormously.“ Romanelli expects that in 2-3 years providers without modern, certified IT security management will no longer be competitive. M-Cube is sure that the investments will pay off.