The 2009 Digital Signage Expo that took place the last week of February in Las Vegas was a great start to the tradeshow season. The conference and tradeshow drew just over 3000 attendees and had a record-setting 188 exhibitors. But the most compelling “market indicator” at DSE? TheDigital Signage Experts Group (DSEG), formed and led by industry veterans Alan Brawn and Jonathan Brawn, together with the official DSEG publishing partner, NewBay Media (publisher of Digital Signage Magazine), successfully launched at the Digital Signage Expo to
“standing room only” attendance.
Why this mini-boom of excitement, in a recession year? Supply and demand in the digital signage market have dovetailed nicely this spring. On the demand side: broadcast is going through a sea-change, and there has never been a more important time to not just seek out new technology solutions in the digital TV transition, but to seek out new vertical markets for broadcast-born technologies. And there is no more promise for growth than in digital signage, a market that was born in broadcast and holds the promise of more new screens for broadcasters than any new vertical since the dawn of the internet.
Digital signage (“narrowcast” content centrally managed but pushed out to public spaces in retail, transportation, education, or corporate settings) is accelerating rapidly, even in the midst of a recession in the larger economy, because of the confluence of two major trends. Brands, retailers, and news/information providers are shifting money away from broadcast advertising and into the places that consumers commute, travel, and shop; and price declines for flat panel and other digital technologies means AV can now easily and cheaply move out of the broadcast studio, classroom, boardroom, and living room, and into those public places. Add to that a demographic shift toward younger consumers with mobile technology devices (the long-awaited “remote control” for digital signage), and you have the ingredients for a bona fide technology boom.
There has never been more need for training in digital signage. It’s evident even to the casual observer that the digital signage industry is one of the most exciting and fastest growing segments of the commercial audiovisual, IT, and content creation industries. But those who think they can go out in this challenging year for the larger economy and just pick the low-hanging digital signage market fruit are finding that it’s not that easy. Digital signage appears to some to be quite simple on the surface, but, drilling down, it becomes an often tangled web of interconnected and complex technologies
Visit www.digitalsignageexperts.org/about.php, for info about the DSEG Board of Directors. that all need to act together in unison to produce the images and messages we see on screen. The challenge this poses to the designers, installers, service providers, and content creators wanting to enter into this space is one of immersion and full understanding.
Many companies have parts of the stream that they understand, but, to truly succeed in this space, a company must understand all of the disparate parts and their interrelationships that make up the entirety of a digital signage network, and ultimately understand how to properly sell the tangible value in those networks to the customer.
The first response to getting people to understand key components in a relatively new industry has and perhaps always will be seminars and training programs created by those manufacturers who are committed to the growth of the market niche. One common denominator of the digital signage industry is that most if not all of the manufacturers provide seminars, white papers, and web sites with “pearls of wisdom” that address a part of the picture. This is understandably delivered in a proprietary manner leaving it to the listener to separate the “pearls” from the promotion. In fact, we applaud the seminars and training programs provided by the manufacturers and suppliers in the digital signage industry. Without their in-depth approach to educating the market about their specific products and application capabilities, we would all be left with gaps in understanding.
But the problem of understanding does not lie within a specific area or product offering but rather with a familiarity and comprehension of how it all works together. For training to be useful, it must be an impartial and agonistic attempt to educate on a broad scale in support of the entire industry. And as with all paradigms and practical instruction, the training must be tested.
Over the last year, countless conversations ensued with industry experts, display manufacturers, distributors, design consultants, content creators, network providers, and, most importantly, integrators who were eager to learn more in a thoughtfully designed environment they could trust.
From this the need, the Digital Signage Certified Experts (DSCE) program was determined, and there was no better place to launch it than the Digital Signage Expo. Already with an educational base of 46 seminars and six different tracks featured at the show, the new DSCE program provided the foundation from which those seminars that followed could drill down into specific topics — manufacturers would have an educated base for them to inform and differentiate themselves in a more meaningful manner. And this in fact is the model for the entire year: DSEG training, with complimentary education and demos from manufactures, general conference organizers, and associations.
What is DSCE training?
In order to be meaningful, the DSCE fundamental approach focuses on a thorough understanding of what makes up the disparate parts of digital signage. The foundation is an impartial look at the “12 Keys of Understanding Digital Signage”:
1. The scale and scope of the digital signage industry
2. Examine applications and the disparate parts of the complex digital signage solution
3. Basic digital signage design
4. The fundamentals of displays
5. The fundamentals of networks
6. Digital signage software and how to evaluate different packages
7. Signal transport alternatives
8. Infrastructure and integration
9. Content and content creation
10. Business models
11. ROI — Return on Investment
12. ROO — Return on Objective
DSEG training addresses those 12 key issues with in-depth analysis, and with Harvard Business School-like case studies that let experts who have succeeded in digital signage rollouts share their secrets of success.
DSCE Certification will be available in select locations nationwide throughout 2009, as well as through dedicated webinars. NewBay Media–publisher of Digital Signage Magazine and the www.digitalsignageweekly.com industry portal–is the official and exclusive publishing partner for the DSCE Certification Program and the Digital Signage Experts Group. Visit www.digitalsignageexperts.org for more information or contact Alan C. Brawn at (alan@brawnconsulting. com) with inquiries about registration for DSCE certification. Visit www.digitalsignageweekly.com for news and updates on the Digital Signage Experts Group training seminars and other activities.