If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what is a digital sign worth? After all a digital sign can display an infinite number of pictures, whether statically one picture at a time or dynamically through a stream of pictures comprised in videos. So it would seem that the value of a digital sign rests in the capacity to display as much content as possible. I contend that the real driver of the value of digital signage is multi-faceted. It depends on cost effectiveness and technological feasibility of the sign location, the ability to connect the sign to an information system, and the capacity to integrate content management systems with rich data and predictive modeling algorithms to provide contextually relevant messaging. In other words, value is a mashup of location, location, location; getting the right information to the right location at the right time; and, connecting to display devices that can be seen and powered in any location.
Digital signage uses computer driven technologies to display digital content and information, often to enhance the service experience in settings to reach large audiences effectively. The trend in the service economy is to use strategies that focus on the customer experience by orchestrating memorable events, as described by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore in their path breaking work examining the “Experience Economy”. Digital signs are emerging as a key technology to help organizations create an experience in a wide range of settings including arenas, entertainment settings, museums, transportation centers, shopping facilities, and so on. Digital signage has great potential to reach audiences through with dynamic messaging by integrating with content management systems. Advanced signage can serve as both an input device with touch screens as well as the typical output device.
The global digital signage market is estimated to exceed $20 billion in 2020 with key players including LG, Samsung, NEC, Sharp, Sony, and Panasonic, AU Optronics Corp, Planar, Systems Inc., Adflow Networks, and Omnivex Corporation.
There are numerous articles and blogs that outline the benefits and challenges of digital signage including an excellent LG CNS blog. In reviewing these resources, the dominant strategy is to give the service provider the ability to push certain content to the audience. Let’s imagine the next frontier in digital signage and consider how signs can add greater value by customizing content based on the audience. What if the audience drives the content displayed through the signs?
The clear tech trend is to leverage the mountains of consumer data to predict what information a user needs. In thinking about matching the signage at a multi-purpose arena, the common practice is to offer signage based on the event. Recently, Justin Bieber was scheduled to play a concert at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on the same day as a Cleveland Cavalier NBA basketball game feature Lebron James. I know the headline issue is whether fans will see Bieber or Lebron. But imagine what the digital signage team is worrying about. What content will we display, the NBA content package or the Bieber concert content package? Fortunately, with a content management system driving the display, its amazing easy to switch the content.
What if the strategy leveraged real-time data based on the particular audience? Instead of picking the content package ahead of time, what if the content that is displayed is based on data collected from the people in proximity to the signage? How would this work? With the growing number of people carrying mobile devices, we have a large collection of data censors, so to speak, with user data that could be used to dynamically predict user interests. Add to the data, location information including social generated location information. And take it to the next step, where we use small screen signage, even wearable signage. The displays could be customized at a micro-level dynamically.
Here are some key steps to drive value to your organization through digital signage and to build capabilities to support digital signage and future advances in digital signage:
- Use signage to build the customer relationship and experience for each customer. Business leaders and researchers recognize that value is based on unique, personalized experiences of consumers. Use technology and data to enhance the extent to which you can customize the content even to the point where the customer helps to co-create the experience. Connect with the audience through social media applications already in popular use on the mobile devices and leverage that data to predict the audiences’ information needs.
- Improve interoperability of systems driving the signs and the content available from disparate sources. Enable machine-to-machine search and integration of content data so that semantic web technology will permit computers to search, collect and organize content. Use this with natural language processing and machine learning to determine meanings, topics, categories and even sentiment to improve content displayed on signage.
- Improve storytelling through signage. More work is needed to improve how we visualize the message, especially when trying to report large amounts of data. Individuals consume and produce an estimated 34 gigabytes of data daily. With the growth of digital information produced and consumed in our lives, it is imperative to understand the data. One of the important developments is to analyze trends in deploying software tools to visualize the large amounts of data in our lives. Firms need the ability to collect and analyze the data to do a better job of understanding the consumer. These analytics provide the insight for innovation by giving firms the ability to spot new trends in consumer expectations and technological changes and act on them intelligently. Visualization tools provide innovative ways to see large amounts of data on the Internet, including consumer behavior and online communities. These tools should be used to generate complex content for display in digital signs.
Links for previous article series:
(1) Knowledge Management: Digitally Transforming Knowledge into Intelligence
(2) Smart Cities, Data Warehouses, Data Lakes and the Information Management Challenge
(3) Mobile Phones, Location Awareness, and Your Digital Entourage
(4) Thoughts on Tech Trends for 2016
(5) Introducing 3-D Printing Technology
(6) Adding Agility to IT Development
Written by Jon Gant, LG CNS Blog’s Regular Contributor
 Pine, B. Joseph II and Gilmore, James, “Welcome to the Experience Economy,” Harvard Business Review, July 1, 1998 [back to the article]
 https://www.reportbuyer.com/product/3007858/digital-signage-market-by-type-software-services-application-and-geography-global-forecast-to-2020.html [back to the article]
 http://hollywoodlife.com/2016/04/14/justin-bieber-cleveland-cavaliers-arena-purpose-tour-nba-playoffs/ [back to the article]