"So what do you do?"
When I was with the San Diego Padres in the late 90's, I told people, "I run the big Jumbotron," when I was asked what I did for a living. Best Buy? "I manage the in-store network."
But when I left Best Buy and I started doing consulting, answering, "So what do you do?" got a little harder. "I consult companies on digital signage."
And then I would have to go into a lengthy discussion on what digital signage was.
Last weekend I attended the birthday party of a friend of one of my children. For the parents I had not met, out came the question, "What do you do?"
When I told them, one parent said, "Oh, like screens on the wall and the electronic billboards on the highway."
Yesterday, I was on a plane heading to the International Sign Expo in Orlando and got to chatting with the gentleman sitting next to me. When I told him what I do, he said, "Oh. You mean like Raspberry Pi and programming TVs?"
Seriously. That's what he said.
A couple of years ago, having to explain digital signage seemed to be a challenge. Today? People know what it is. The customer knows about it, knows what it is, and assumes it will perform the task for which it is intended.
Statistics have bounced around regarding digital engagement and whether or not venues are able to keep up. The continued evolution of technology has created different types of channels, like billboards, touchscreens, mobile, kiosks, tablets, and large flat panel displays. And many venues are trying anything they can do make an impact.
But what also has changed as well is the knowledge of the customer, the expectation that it should be there, that it should work, and that it should deliver on the promised proposition.
And as many of us on this side of the solution say, you must always begin with the customer in mind. The customer is as smart as we are.
And my plane-mate? He works in the pharmaceutical industry. And I now know more about insulin.
Flanigan is the new executive director of the Digital Screenmedia Association. You can also find him writing regularly at his own blog, Experiate.net.