Digital signage has gone from luxury to necessity in the commercial AV space. It seems that everyone wants to go “digital” instead of static print for signage applications. From Corporate Communications to Education, Government, Retail, Hospitality, and Entertainment Venues, deploying digital signage is a growing part of your business. But how to you keep ahead of the curve in this fast paced industry? Having been involved with digital signage for more than 20 years, please allow me to gaze into my crystal ball for the top five trends that I see going forward over the next few years.
1. Displays will become even more affordable. That's one thing you can count on in the hardware business...costs always go down! This will be a HUGE driver to the Pro AV integrators business. I can remember the first plasma screens costing $15,000 each. Now you can get an even larger commercial screen in the $1,000-range. More affordable screens means that your clients can deploy more screens in more places, and the ROI to justify those screens is almost not worth talking about.
2. All displays will become smart-er IP addressable screens. You’re seeing this already in smart screens from Samsung and LG (and others). MagicInfo from Samsung and SuperSign from LG allow you to “just have a screen” and connect it to the network without the need of an outboard media player or PC. Both Samsung and LG have software solutions supporting these new smart screens, and even some third party software companies like Scala and SignageLive support these built in players as well. Again, lowering the total solution cost and making it easier to deploy will be a boon to the Pro AV integrators business. The only trick is to make the built-in players more capable over time, or as Mark Twain said, "Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated," when it comes to out outboard media players. Sophisticated applications will still require an outboard media player.
3. Software in the cloud, players always connected (no more sneakernet). A shocking number of digital signage screens in retail are not connected to a network today, and just get updated via USB stick from time to time. Really? In 2015?? Unfortunately, yes. That's has to change. The Internet of Things (IoT) is undeniable and unstoppable.
4. Dynamic data everywhere drives content strategy. Just playing a simple video loop won't cut it anymore. Content needs to by timely and relevant, and therefore dynamic, which in turn will be more engaging and successful. As a Pro AV solution provider, don’t just stop at hanging a screen. Talk to your client about their content strategy upfront and engage with them at a higher level. This will help you tailor the technology solution to exceed your clients’ expectations (and get more business)!!
5. More retailers adopt digital signage as a "default" versus print. To quote another famous person, John Wanamaker, "Half of the money I spend on marketing is wasted. I just don't know which half!" With 50 percent of print campaigns being either bungled or not deployed in-store, folks will realize that digital will guarantee 100 percent compliance (or close to that given human error). I don't think print will ever go away completely for permanent signage, but signage that ends up in the trash dumpster each week or month will absolutely go away.
Author Jeff Porter is a member of the Digital Signage Expo Advisory Board and will be attending DSE 2016 March 15-18 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. For more information on any of the educational programs offered at DSE 2016 or to learn more about digital signage go to www.dse2016.com. Jeff Porter is one of the industry’s leading experts in digital signage and is the founder of Porter Digital Signage Consulting. From business planning, to sales and marketing and technology choices, Porter has been helping his clients get all the moving parts of digital signage in alignment for success. Prior to heading his own consulting business, Mr. Porter was employed by Scala, Commodore, Bell Labs and Eastman Kodak. Mr. Porter holds a BSEE from Purdue University and a MS from the University of Illinois. He can be contacted at email@example.com or by phone 610-202-7676. For additional articles of interest on digital signage, check out http://porterdigitalsignage.com/Blog.html