By Alan C. Brawn
Principal, Brawn Consulting
Polishing up the old crystal ball, there are going to be some inescapable trends in 2014.
From the perspective of The Digital Signage Experts Group's 7 Key Elements of Digital Signage, here is what we see happening within each Element:
- Much more accurate and reliable work will be done on research and forecasting of the quantity of parts in digital signage and reporting on the various market segments.
- Ad-based networks will continue to proliferate, but, at long last, employee-facing networks will come into their own from a value-added perspective.
- ROI and ROO will take their respective places as separate entities where hard dollars spent can be looked at as being successful through meeting objectives and assessing the value to a company in terms of the results obtained by meeting those objectives.
- Articulating the objectives will now become known as the "king" that all other key elements will follow.
- While analytics became a hot topic in 2013, it will become even hotter in 2014 — with new directions in the evaluation of who the viewer is, how long they look at a screen in terms of dwell time, and what impact the content has on them.
- We will understand the nature of digital signage as a tool for true behavior modification.
- There will come a new understanding of the significance of a "call to action" in a digital signage message and that this concept is not limited to ad-based networks.
- Social media networks will become a much more mainstream and integrated component in content design.
- Digital signage systems design will become both less complex in some applications and yet more complex in others as the needs of a network are understood more completely.
- Digital signage systems design will be recognized as separate from AV or IT design while incorporating elements of each one.
- There will be a proliferation of "simple" digital signage software for those not needing the "Full Monty."
- With employee-facing networks coming on line, there will be a migration to software oriented more for this application than retail.
- We will see a further segmentation of individual software packages designed for specific applications and industries.
- Social media integration will take a more important role.
- Interactivity will increase, going beyond just touchscreens into incorporating passive forms of "interactivity" such as more use of QR codes and NFC.
- Two-way communication of data back to the digital signage system from the viewer will emerge as a way to drive customer interaction.
- We will see flat panel display prices stabilize to a certain extent, since there are few savings left at the manufacturer level. In short, there is not much more cost to take out!
- Displays will come with more media players built in, with systems on a chip similar to what Samsung introduced in 2013.
- Yes, 4K will begin to rear its head but it will not dominate for a couple of years, due to content production costs and distribution complexity.
- OLED will not take over from LCD for a lot of reasons, starting with supply, expense and performance vs. current LCD displays.
- Outboard and inboard media players will take advantage of larger and less expensive SSD drives in smaller form factors.
- Video walls will see double-digit growth.
- Software-based video wall processors will become the rage due to performance and TCO issues.
- We will see some new variations of direct-view LED displays, and they will become more commonly available through the typical digital signage, AV and IT channels.
- We will see continuing improvements in wireless and cellular bandwidth and reliability.
- A resurgence in USB will be seen as a way to distribute content in small-scale networks. It is often overlooked but can be simple, effective and easy to manage.
- Streaming media will improve as video compression algorithms advance to the next level.
- The concept of "Just in Time," or JIT, will make its way to digital signage logistics.
- Project management for digital signage applications will have new "tools" at their disposal in terms of vendor support for their project rollouts.
- The concept of "managed services" for large networks will gain in understanding and acceptance.
Alan C. Brawn is a principal at Brawn Consulting, an audiovisual consulting, educational development and marketing firm based in Vista, Calif; the co-director of the DSEG; and a board member and chairman emeritus of the Digital Signage Federation for 2013.
Learn more about digital signage trends.