The digital signage industry is only just beginning to hit its stride and move into more “non-traditional” areas such as education, hospitality, retail. We are seeing a rapid drive of broader range environments that are finding that they must “bid, compete” for people’s time and attention.

Waiting areas in pharmacies, healthcare institutions, call centers/support organizations, offices are using digital signage to present a high interest, highly effective controlled message. Even in manufacturing operations and employee communications firms are using their intranet to keep employees abreast of company and industry information as well as enhance their training/education.

Digital signage has matured to a point where it is no longer simply a paper sign replacement but in the case of retail is a seamlessly integrated part of the total point of sale system/operation.

This integration will become even more prominent in the coming year and years as digital signage will become so ubiquitous that it will be there delivering your message but most of the information will be registering without your fully being aware. This coming year we’ll see music and focused as well as open information systems being widely adopted as well as real-time message management.

2011 marked the beginning of much more responsible management and marketing going well beyond – good looking, feel good digital signage – with a greater focus on measurement metrics that enabled management to more precisely determine the honest ROI of their investments but also to test/evaluate alternatives in near real-time.

Marketing managers have been at the forefront in this aspect and have been able to tangibly see that they can very finitely measure almost every aspect of their signage investment – types of messages, timing of messages, signage location, movement, tie-ins with social media.

Along the way our team has become much more adept at providing consultative assistance with organizations that are carrying out trial deployments to assist the organizations in developing – and measuring – the efforts and their results.

Organizations in every segment – screens, players, software, services – are feeling tremendous price pressure to deliver more, better solutions for less. Our channel partners who previously enjoyed “reasonable” margins are relying more on established partnership relationships not just for profit assistance but in leveraging experience and expertise to produce and deliver unique and measurable solutions for customers. It is highly doubtful if we will ever return to the “good old days” of minimal support/service and aggressive profits.

We believe that 2012 could mark the beginning of industry consolidation in every segment including channel partners. The freewheeling days of fragmented efforts and activities are either gone or disappearing very rapidly.

We simply have too many companies – in every segment – that are losing money because they have poor process control or the signage area is simply a sideline activity and not part of the company’s main business venture. In addition there are organizations that are undercapitalized so that they can’t afford to invest in the necessary volume, market ownership to become a strong, viable market participant.

The weak, undernourished, under committed organizations will be displaced or absorbed by the industry’s most refined and focused companies. While consolidation is often traumatic for individuals in the companies it does weed out the weak, infirm and ultimately produce a healthier, more vital industry.