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Smart Communications

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Digital Signage Provides Significant ROI For Clients


While clients may be hesitant in making large capital outlays in a weak economy, one area that is continuing to demonstrate activity is in the realm of digital signage. The initial investment, many argue, is rapidly recovered when one considers the financial and labor-related expense of transmitting information the traditional way—via paper, faxes, and even email, which, because of the amount of spam we’re accustomed to receiving, often goes unread.

“Whenever you are thinking about digital signage, you should always be looking at what communications challenge the client faces, and how you can improve that communication by doing it digitally, as opposed to face-to-face communication, or paper that you are going to mail out,

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The initial investment of digital signage may be rapidly recovered when one considers the financial and labor-related expense of transmitting information the traditional way—via paper, faxes, and even email, which often go unread. or even email,” said Jeff Collard, president, Omnivex, a software and content management provider.

Among the vertical markets that are showing the most promise are those seeking to distribute information other than advertising content. Educational institutions, for example, are embracing the technology to distribute notices not only related to what’s taking place on the campus, but as a means of broadcasting alert messages in the event of an emergency. The transport industry is optimizing these systems to provide updates to passengers on flights, train departures, and way-finding. The corporate market is also continuing to invest in digital display networks to streamline internal communications— and therefore boost employee efficiency, while promoting brand image in customer reception areas as well.

“As companies grow and evolve, they need to share information to be successful, and a very effective method is to use digital signage to communicate with employees as they are captive—waiting for an elevator or catching a cup of coffee,” observed Ryan Cahoy, managing director of Rise Vision, which owns and largely of a workforce that is on the run, uses digital signage to distribute data to doctors and nurses as they circulate throughout the facility, tending to patients. “These people are on the move, they are not desk bound, so many hospitals are using digital signage strategically located in cafeterias, break rooms, and outside elevators to quickly communicate key information as these employees pass through the halls,” Cahoy said.

Ironically, even financial institutions are investing in digital signage, most notably as a way to boost consumer confidence, Collard noted. “Communicating with their customers is a big issue for them, and the traditional way that they used to communicate isn’t there anymore,” he said. “It’s much better if they can provide something that people can view to reestablish that relationship.”

The blurring line between AV and IT is especially prevalent in digital signage networks, necessitating the acquisition of skill sets related to computer, networking, and telephony. “For this industry to evolve to the next level, there is going to be a need for integrators to step up and be good digital signage integrators,” said Kris Vollrath, vice president and general manager of Advanced AV’s Advanced Technologies Group in West Chester, PA. He adds that creative skills are also in demand. “These are the pieces that are missing from a traditional AV dealer. AV integrators have to step up and almost become AV/IT integrators.”

Hardware manufacturer NEC Display Solutions, which offers a bundled Lobby Signage Solution, has addressed the software-related challenges that contractors face by providing a range of services to help systems integration firms pursue this market. “We have a list of partners where they don’t have to do all of the sourcing,” explained Mike Zmuda, director of business development. “In most applications, a digital signage installation is semi-custom. That’s a good reason to work with a company like us, where we have a full range of knowledge on the software and hardware components.” In a way, the manufacturer acts as a subcontractor for contractors, he added, noting that NEC’s website serves as a portal to top-tier digital signage software companies.

As clients grow more sophisticated in their application of digital signage, the industry is beginning to experience an evolution similar to that of the internet, Collard observes. “We’ve gone from static pages to interactivity, where the information is very specific to you, and as you click on things and look into a website, it starts changing things around to give you the information you need to help you make a decision or do something,” he said. “That same sort of interaction is something that digital signage is good at.”

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