Here are five things you need to know about digital signs, which will soon feature bandwidth-hogging video files that need to be linked to back-end systems and consumer smartphones.
1. It's more than advertising. Digital signage generally displays content for a targeted audience at venues such as college and corporate campuses, medical facilities, retailers, transportation centers and work spaces. Organizations from all types of industries use digital signage to deliver messages to consumers and employees alike. They use it to advertise products, improve brand awareness, increase worker efficiency and provide information and instructions.
2. It will require systems integration. Although digital signs were once standalone systems, they're now increasingly integrated with back-end systems. This allows organizations to display real-time content that adjusts to changing situations and organizational goals, says Dave Haynes, co-founder of The Preset Group, a consultancy. For example, fast-food restaurants integrate their digital signage with point-of-sale and inventory-management systems so the signs only promote items that are in stock. Shipping companies tie their digital signage into logistics applications so they can display workflow performance data so workers can keep shipments on schedule.
3. Next up: mobile connections.Near-field communications and other mobile technologies can enable direct connections between digital signage and individual smartphones to deliver personalized messages. Haynes says CIOs must help decide how to best enable those connections, such as by having users download apps that allow them to opt into an interactive connection. "There is a building relationship between the small screen and the big screen and that has to happen if the larger screens are going to retain their relevance," Haynes says.
4. Networks will be put to the test. An increasing percentage of digital signage content will be in ultra-high-definition (UHD), which could swamp an organization's network bandwidth, particularly if the content is pulled from the cloud instead of being stored and played locally, says IHS analyst Sanju Khatri. Digital signage using UHD displays first appeared at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas in 2013, and IHS predicts huge growth in UHD displays in the next few years.
5. The CIO should handle governance. Marketing, HR and other business departments are typically responsible for how a company uses digital signage. But Lyle Bunn, an independent industry analyst, says CIOs need to develop governance policies to manage and support the system's hardware, software and bandwidth requirements and to ensure that digital signage can be integrated into back-end systems.