As we turn the page on 2015 and begin to look toward the New Year, we'll take one last look back at 2015 — heading into 2016 it's instructive to look back at what the recent past held to help figure out what's still to come.
We've already looked at what were the biggest blogs, news items and feature stories of 2015 in terms of pageviews on DigitalSignageToday.com, but we also wanted to see what people in the industry thought of the year past and the year ahead.
So we turned to a panel of industry experts to ask them what they thought were the biggest stories or trends in the industry in 2015, which we're presenting here — and what they forecast to be the biggest trends of this year, which we'll be presenting tomorrow.
So, without further ado, this is what they had to say about the year that was:
Doug Bannister, CEO and CTO, Omnivex Corp.:
In many ways 2015 was the year of "experiences." Whether it was creating immersive, interactive or engaging experiences, improving experience was a clear priority in most organizations. Retailers looked at how to elevate the store experience, by integrating information across all of their digital platforms to create immersive in-store digital experiences. Organizations across all industries looked at ways to use interactivity on devices like digital kiosks to facilitate self-service and personalized experiences. Venues, such as arenas, pushed the envelope and used digital signage as a way to extend the game experience outside the basketball court or baseball diamond to the venue exterior or satellite retail locations.
Nick Fearnley, CEO, SignStix:
Despite the fact that 4K has been gaining momentum over the past two to three years, 4K displays really came to the fore in 2015. Large-format displays including video walls will continue to spur the use of Ultra-High-Definition digital signage, and 4K content will become much more accessible and available.
Over the past few years, the AV industry has done well to educate commercial enterprises and large corporates on the innumerable benefits of digital signage. In 2015, we started to see organizations investing heavily in digital signage, taking things far beyond a flagship store or trial; instead, organizations planned digital as a core part of their estate, helping to build a more cohesive, integrated marketing communications strategy.
Last year, we also saw an accelerated adoption of digital signage across the health care, education and corporate sectors, as organizations began to take advantage of real-time digital communication, giving them the power to communicate with patients, students and staff in a much more compelling way. This was partly driven by platform maturity, but also through reduction in cost through increased competition in the digital signage marketplace.
A. Jay, Senior Director of Business Relations, Mvix:
The most significant stories of 2015 revolved around the significant reduction in costs of signage systems (hardware plus software combined) — mainly with no recurring cost. For a one-time upfront cost, end-user enterprises can be equipped with a customizable graphic engine to drive effective communication.
Why is this significant? Traditionally, one of the hurdles of realizing an effective digital signage campaign was a high initial capital expense, combined with significant recurring fees being charged by most digital signage companies. The pricing model mentioned above brings about a significant shift in the market approach of digital signage systems. The idea is to reduce the cost of hardware/software systems to a price point that's low enough for users to be able to invest in a content strategy, implementation services, ongoing management, maintenance, etc.
In the digital signage industry, we have always promoted the usefulness of content, and the fact that "content is king." However, most users continue to implement digital signage with minimal focus on keeping the content fresh. Time and again, we hear from users that there is not enough money to allocate toward continual content upkeep. As a result, users have skimped on adequate budgeting for fresh content, network maintenance, implementation, etc.
In my opinion, we've seen a radical shift in the way people are approaching digital signage projects. We expect projects to focus more on overall communication goals than a mere technology adoption decision. As the digital signage market matures, the initial capital outlay is becoming insignificant, which will likely motivate investments in areas which matter most.
In 2015 more and more digital signage systems are priced to a point that they now constitute a mass market product. A low price point coupled with an optimal set of features makes getting started with digital signage easier. We expect most vendors to follow suit and provide hardware/software systems priced low enough so that the systems are a "means" to an end and not the end goal itself.
Giovanni Mancini, Senior Director and Head of Global Marketing, E Ink:
E Ink chooses "Sydney launches 'world's first' e-paper traffic signs" as the top digital signage story of 2015.
The reason this story stands out is because it is a rare case of digital signage deployed for the good of the consumer versus for the purpose of trying to sell the consumer something. Products stand out when they create a discontinuity by providing value that changes behavior. Some of the traffic signs in Sydney are so confusing that it was very difficult to figure when parking was allowed and when it wasn't. Australia's RMS took the bold move to solve the problem in a way that benefitted the public and possibly generated less revenue through fines for the government. The signs remove clutter and provide a welcome service to the average motorist trying to simply find a parking space that is legal at the time. It was a unique case of digital signs improving the environment and providing a service, as opposed to deploying something that overloads our senses with bright, flashing lights and contributing to the increasing light pollution around us.
Sean Matthews, President and CEO, Visix Inc.
We observed two clearly identifiable trends in the corporate campus and higher education markets in 2015. First was the rapid adoption of large video walls as a practical digital signage medium, and the second was the mass-market adoption of wayfinding. Clients, consultants and integrators took advantage of micro tiles, mosaics and traditional four-by-four arrays in their interior spaces to create more compelling visual experiences. Marrying powerful digital signage players with 4K content to these displays increased everyone's understanding of the potential this medium has on impacting employee and student engagement. Wayfinding was on fire in 2015.
Navdeep Reddy, co-founder and CIO, Enplug:
"2015: The Year of the Android Digital Signage Player" - While we're still waiting for "The Year of the Linux Desktop," 2015 was a breakout year for Android as a digital signage platform. While it's been a long while coming, nearly every vendor has an Android-based solution on the market. 2015 saw the release of two new versions of Android, 6.0 and 5.1 which debuted the "Android TV" platform. With the first TV models integrated with Android released in late 2015, expect even more smart TVs sporting Android as the New Year rolls out. Perhaps more accurately we can dub 2015 the year of the "non-Windows signage player" — as the ChromeOS platform also came onto the scene with a major push from Google to establish it as a viable option for digital signage.
Neil Willis, CEO, Hypersign:
We have seen too many tragic events happen in the United States throughout the year of 2015. There was a total of 353 mass shootings in the U.S. alone. Fifty-two of those shootings were in schools and universities. These disasters are happening too often. We shouldn't worry about sending our children to school, going to colleges and universities, or even going to work.
What can we do to better notify individuals of an emergency? Digital signage can play a key role in alerting individuals and crowds of a life or death situation. The National Fire Protection Act 72 states that all publicly facing displays must alert individuals of an emergency event within the location. Digital signage can be customized for the type of emergency situation that is happening and display the appropriate information and even display the best evacuation route. I believe this could help save lives.
Christopher is the editor of DigitalSignageToday.com. A longtime freelance writer and reporter, he's bringing a fresh perspective and critical take on the industry.