One of the fascinating parts of working with corporate communications projects, especially those that involve digital signage communications networks and kiosks, is the challenge of the blending content and its successful delivery through a variety of channels, which is of tremendous importance.
Many of the more challenge parts of infrastructure are the simplest — for instance — ensuring that there is electrical power and web connectivity at all desired locations. Not every site is appropriate for a hard-wired installation, and yet, sometimes due to size or type of construction, wireless systems aren’t suitable either. Occasionally there may even be issues with the ability to run electrical power to the desired area. In these cases the ability to come to a workable compromise is a key skill set between the hardware team and the internal client.
I anticipate two trends to develop in the long term.
The first relates to what I refer to as “roll out” screens. Imagine ultra large screens, which are flexible in contour and shape. This would allow installations in situations and sites that would be currently impossible.
The second trend I anticipate will involve kiosks. There will always be kiosks, and more and bigger can be expected. But mobility platforms, held in the hand, are likely to be an extension of the kiosk concept, individualized for each user. Image a mini hot spot that allows the user to walk into its radius and on their mobile device the user is able to interact with a kiosk-style user experience.
Let’s look at some implications.
As screen sizes increase, the ability to properly install the system becomes more important. Failure of a physical support system is more than just embarrassing. It can be dangerous to the public and it can create a significant liability for the location, not to mention the additional cost. The result is that we are now devoting more time than ever to identifying and using more robust mounts, anchors and supports.
I expect the trend toward larger displays to continue to grow quickly, because even in corporate and manufacturing spaces, larger screens offer significant improvements. Better readability, longer sight distances, and the ability to contour to site peculiarities are all going to improve over time.
This evolution in displays would totally change the installation landscape, and would also dramatically alter the content requirements. Screens might be glued to walls, and content would need to be larger and of higher resolution. Eventually I believe there will be holographic types of installations, which also would change the content creation requirements.
The development of bigger, high resolution digital signs, and the improvement of the kiosk platform is essentially just a question of improving the quality of the roadway, and enabling new messaging strategies and methods. (If a 100 foot long and 40 foot tall sign is placed on the walls of a manufacturing plant or other location, the messages possible, and user experiences, will be radically new.)
I think there will always be a place for basic kiosks for way finding and for website access. Screens may get larger, become touch activated and have better resolution, and may even have some degree of voice activation, but I believe that presentational digital signage and the interactive kiosk/handheld tools will remain distinct with different purposes. Linked? Yes. The same? No.
Corporate communicators need to continue to build content that drives viewers through a funnel, or process, at the end of which a desired behavior takes place. This process is totally dependent on the effectiveness and operational stability of the hardware/software environment. The ability of this integrated system to impact viewer behaviors is valuable only if the conversion takes place and the system can provide a measurable outcome.
The takeaway from these ideas is that content and technology are wedded. The new technologies are fresh ways to influence human behavior. The nature of the tools is highly dynamic. And that’s why this is such a great field in which to work.
As technologies change the cycle of test and build must go on indefinitely to expand the value of the content and improve channel infrastructure.
Author Vincent Gross is a member of the CorpComm Expo Advisory Board and will be a Panelist on the Thursday, October 1st Keynote Thought Leadership Panel at CorpComm Expo 2015 entitled, “Taking Aim at the Future – Insights into Employee Communication for the Next Generation,” from 9:00-10:00am that morning at the Georgia World Congress Center. That panel will discuss the outlook for the corporate communications environment and how to deal with the “digital noise” bombarding employees on a daily basis. For more information about CorpComm Expo, or to register for this or any other educational seminar or workshop and learn more about digital communications technologies and strategies go to www.corpcommexpo.com
As Systems Manager for Mohawk Industries, Vincent Gross implements projects that benefit the company’s effectiveness and improve employee engagement. In his role, Gross developed the largest internal communications digital signage network in North America, allowing the company to communicate consistent corporate, benefits/wellness and local messaging to over 30,000 employees at more than 300 locations across the nation. He also developed the Mohawk Mobility Safety application that has eliminated the use of paper checklists and audits, increased the company’s efficiency, allowed safety professionals to be more productive and supported Mohawk’s Green initiative.