A Digital Sign of the Times

One of the interesting transition points to digital business is the emergence of digital signage. This may take the form of digital billboards alongside highways or digital signs or menu boards in hotels and restaurants. Of course, some eateries have even gone so far as to discard menus altogether and use iPads for ordering food and beverages.

According to a recently released report from Research and Markets, the digital signage market hit $14.63 billion in 2014 and is expected to reach $23.76 billion by 2020. The research also found that there’s a general lack of awareness regarding the benefits of digital signage. These include greater flexibility, an ability to change items or menus faster and interoperability between devices, including smartphones. Of course, businesses save paper, ink and energy as well.

Make no mistake, digital signage represents the future. But it’s important to understand that, on a practical level, the technology involves more than “digital posters” or simple “electronic messaging,” a blog at digital signage vendor Industry Weapon points out. It’s also important to tie it into other systems and other types of digital media in order to achieve the full benefits.

U.K. supermarket chain Tesco already uses facial recognition to deliver specific messaging to shoppers at convenience stores based on gender and age. Some retailers, such as Adidas, are now using digital displays to create highly interactive shopping experiences that, in some cases, tie into smartphones. In Australia, temperature-detecting displays at cafes, universities and other locations flash promotions for iced tea when temperatures spike.

CIOs must tune into this trend and ensure that digital messaging and signage systems deliver results without becoming creepy or invading privacy. Let’s face it, there’s a Minority Report-like element to the technology when it is used in an interactive way. There’s also a need to resist pushing too far too fast.

Let’s face it, just about everything will eventually go digital. But finding the right approach and putting the right software and systems in place will determine which companies soar and which stumble on the path to progress.

The signs are everywhere.

Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard writes about business, technology and other topics. His book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press) was released in the spring of 2015.

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