I frequently read reports about the size of the digital signage industry and its expected growth. However, I rarely hear anyone include the digital sign billions of people carry around with them and interact with constantly — the cell phone. Shouldn't it be considered a digital sign? Other than being carried in a pocket or purse instead of installed on a wall, it's the same as a digital sign. To me, it's a personal digital sign. I believe all of us in the digital signage industry need to be aware of this and include it as another device our customers can use to download our content.
It's incredible how much people today rely on their cell phones for communication and information. If you're in any segment of the digital signage business, you should be seriously considering how to best get information on that device. We also have to make sure it is content the phone owner wants to receive and that it's useful and effective.
When you think about it, the cell phone is now the primary device people use to get the information they want and to communicate with each other. It's obvious cell phones are one place where all business owners should have their information available. However, since a cell phone is a personal device instead of a public device, we have to be careful not to clutter it with spam or unwanted information. The content has to be something the phone owner wants to see.
The cell phone is also used with beacon location devices and order and pay-ahead applications. It's an important part of the communication process. That's why many of us are working so hard at developing applications, texting and payment systems, location devices and other methods of connecting our customers with their consumers. If it's done correctly it will be useful to the consumer, support an easier and more pleasant experience, and provide extra profit and growth for our customers.
This is just one more example of how technology changes everything. It creates new industries, eliminates others and melds some together. That makes it more difficult to record, keep up with or even classify. However, if we don't keep up with it and learn how to use it, our competitors will and they'll have a huge advantage.
Do you ever wonder what our industry will be like in 10 or even five years? Will holograms replace LCD screens? Will the cell phone be incorporated into our eyeglasses? Just stop and think how our methods of communication have changed in the past 20 years. More and more people don't write on paper; they type on a phone or computer keyboard. Will voice recognition eliminate that? The possibilities are exciting!
/ Vertigo Group USA president Scott Sharon has decades of experience in the sign and menu board industry, and nearly another decade in digital signage. He's a longtime proponent of, and innovator in, expanding the deployment of digital menu boards in QSRs. Sharon also is a Team Leader for START, the Strategic Technology Alliance for Restaurant and Trade.