Seeing is believing on Avnet digital signage tour

April 19, 2012 | by Christopher Hall

With a technology medium as new — and as visual — as digital signage, sometimes seeing really is believing.

So global technology firm Avnet Technology Solutions decided to deploy digital signage throughout the Avnet Global Solutions Center — with digital signage serving both as tour guide of the facility and as proofs-of-concept for potential deployers.

Avnet recently hosted a grand opening and ribbon cutting of its new digital signage video tour and a digital signage showcase, bringing in ecosystem partners and the media to tour the new digital signage additions to the 228,000-square-foot integration and logistics facility in Chandler, Ariz.

To start, tour guides led guests on tours of the facility, where at designated stops they would see digital signage presentations about the facility. Previously on tours, Avnet employees would deliver a presentation to guests, but now each tour guide swipes an RFID card at each stop to activate a digital signage tour presentation. The RFID cards of the guides allowed Avnet to track tours' progress, and each station showed the appropriate video content for that section of the building.

Each station, though, also showcased a different way to install digital signage, from a single, wall-mounted display to a four-by-four video wall high on a warehouse wall to screens mounted on mobile stands rolling on casters.

Finally, the tour terminated in a digital signage showcase, where Avnet has displayed solutions like such as Intel Corp.'s AIMS suite that detects the demographic information of screen viewers and a screen showing glasses-free 3D content from Magnetic 3D.

The idea is to show prospective clients and current clients, particularly those who might be unfamiliar with digital signage, what digital signage can do, Avnet executives said.

The open house and ribbon cutting drew industry figures from across the spectrum of digital signage solutions providers and Avnet ecosystem partners, from Intel to Samsung and from NEC to Real Digital Media — most of whom also had products on display in the tour or the showcase.

Real Digital Media President Mike Baron said, after the tour, that he thinks what Avnet is doing with its tour and its efforts to go end to end with digital signage "is kind of unique for the distribution world."

"They really are integrating all the elements to create a complete solution," he said.

That's Avnet's strategy, said Chuck Kostalnick, senior vice president for Avnet Embedded, using its global scale and reach and its partner network to be able to deliver everything for digital signage, from site surveys to hardware and software to installation and post-installation services and maintenance.

And having the digital signage tour as part of its showcase facility allows Avnet to demonstrate both the company's commitment to the digital signage sector and the possibilities digital signage creates for its clients.

"Seeing really is believing," he said.

Seeing also provides more, said Jon Parks, product marketing manager for Avnet's Brilliant Digital Signage program. Seeing the varieties of solutions incorporated into the tour, from RFID-tags that initiate specific content to huge video walls, gives clients ideas for how they can use digital signage and proof that it is effective, he said.

Sarah Ferguson, national account manager for NEC Display Solutions, also was on hand for the tour and open house and came away impressed.

"Avnet's Global Solution Center tour ... presents an innovative platform, inviting digital signage discussion while showcasing industry-leading technology," she said in an email. "The tour provided an uncommon opportunity for customers to enjoy hands-on demonstrations and see digital signage solutions in action."

What Avnet is doing is "impressive," said Jose Avalos, head of retail and digital signage for Intel Corp. For smaller businesses that don't have an IT infrastructure, having a tech giant like Avnet to provide complete solutions is a huge boon to the industry itself. And with other large corporations, from NCR to Cisco to HP and Intel itself, making significant commitments to the digital signage sector, the forecast ahead for the industry is favorable, he said.

"You have large companies and solution providers like Avnet really making a heavy investment in digital signage, so the industry is growing really fast," Avalos said. "We also see more and more large companies that are making big investments in digital signage, so I think the industry has a great future."

Read more about digital signage distribution.

Topics: Audience Measurement , Display Technology , Distributors / Resellers , Hardware , Software

Companies: Cisco Systems , Samsung Electronics America , NEC Display Solutions , Avnet Digital Signage , Intel Corporation

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