For a couple of years now I've been hearing about "digital signage in a box." In other words, an everything-in-one digital signage solution that a neophyte could buy and have up and running in hours. Not only have I been hearing about it, we've even been approached on a few occasions about being part of such a solution — and were very receptive quite frankly — but in the end these initiatives never went anywhere, at least not yet.
Why is that? It seems like such an obvious opportunity. Small businesses everywhere are waking up to the promise of digital signage. They see it becoming ever more pervasive, and they immediately get what it can do for them. At the very least it helps them communicate better with their customers, helps them come across as more substantial and progressive, and integration with other kinds of marketing such as mobile and social can really change how they market their business. I hear often from long-time players in the digital signage space that they want to go "down market" because that's where they see the biggest growth.
The distribution channel even seems ready made: Best Buy, OfficeMax, Office Depot ... Why not Costco and Sam's Club? What about traditional sign companies that increasingly are being asked by their customers about digital signage, even as they see their traditional business relentlessly shrinking away? All of these seem obvious places for the bar owner, the salon, the small restaurateur to look when they're ready to dip their toe in the water for the first time.
Is it because we're making it too complicated? Vendors often seem to make that mistake, forgetting that no one really cares about the technical challenges we've surmounted to build this industry — they just want to deliver a compelling, interesting and effective message at the right place and the right time.
Whatever the reasons, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this year someone will pull this off and launch a successful digital-signage-in-a-box solution. It can be done. And when it is I think it will have a profound and far-reaching impact on our industry.
Don Pierson is founder and president at Flypaper Studio Inc., a subsidiary of Trivantis Corp. He has two decades experience in interactive communications and founded Interactive Alchemy before developing what is now Flypaper digital signage software.