2015 is shaping up to be a groundbreaking year in the digital signage market. Anyone who has been following the latest trends in digital signage (and, if you’re an integrator, you absolutely should be doing so) knows that the signs are pointing to widespread use of some game-changing technologies that, until recently, the market had been hesitant to embrace. The long-awaited adoption of 4K signage is becoming a reality, interactive displays are popping up everywhere and Near Field Communication technology is expanding the reach of digital signage content in ways that could have only been dreamed of just a few years ago. Integrators looking to make a mark in this market would be wise to ride the wave of exciting new technology.
If you’re interested in learning more about the latest developments in digital signage, you’ll find more than enough to satisfy your curiosity at the upcoming 2015 Digital Signage Expo. Chris Gibbs, Presiden/CEO of Exponation, and Ken Goldberg, Digital Signage Federation Chairman and President/CEO of Real Digital Media, gave us the scoop on what you can expect in Las Vegas next month.
Come On Home
The show, scheduled for March 10-13, marks the return of DSE to the Las Vegas Convention Center. Last year’s show was held at the Sands Expo and Convention Center, but it seems that DSE won’t be looking to change venues again any time soon. “We will be in the Las Vegas Convention Center through 2018, and likely for the foreseeable future beyond 2018,” said Gibbs.
DSE’s homecoming coincides with the debut of several big-name exhibitors on the show floor. “This year, Google and Toshiba America Information Systems have joined the show for the first time with very large exhibit spaces,” said Gibbs. “Other new 2015 exhibitors include Audio Everywhere, BenQ, FriendMedia, IAdea Corp., iFace, Intrinsyc Technologies Corp., LACIMA Corp., Nixplay, Parabit Systems, Premio, Rise Vision, Soundtube Entertainment, StratosMedia, Studio Squared, Taggalo and Videotel, to name few.”
The show kicks off with a keynote breakfast hosted by the Digital Signage Federation (DSF) on Tuesday, March 10, from 7:30am to 9:00AM. The breakfast will feature a panel discussion entitled “Future Trends in Digital Signage.” According to Goldberg, “Systems integrators would benefit immeasurably from this discussion to help them focus on profitable areas of business in the year ahead.” However, integrators interested in attending this discussion should move quickly. “Because this is a ‘hosted’ session, registration is free, and limited to the first 250 registrants,” explained Goldberg.
Even if you can’t make it to that opening breakfast/panel discussion, educational opportunities abound at DSE 2015. Several seminars, roundtables and similar events will take place over the course of the four-day expo. Many of these sessions are targeted toward the systems integration market. In fact, “DSE promotes specifically to systems integrators with print and online advertising, as well as direct mail. Our investment in this promotion category is second only to our promotion to end users,” explained Gibbs. “Our promotion focuses on the expanded education program, as well as the hands-on experience that DSE offers.”
For the first time, this year’s show will incorporate a seminar track comprised of four sessions specifically tailored to systems integrators and installers. “Two of the four sessions will be traditional presentations, and two will be a new format we call Idea Exchange,” explained Gibbs. “This new collaborative format will allow attendees the opportunity to share ideas and best practices among one another in more an intimate setting.” These Idea Exchange sessions will include “Total Cost of Ownership: Opportunity or Quagmire?” from 4:00pm to 5:00pm on March 11 and “Digital Signage Troubleshooting” from 4:00pm to 5:00pm on March 12, both in room N260. The seminars will include “Advanced Display Technologies: Past, Present and Future” from 9:00am to 10:00am on March 11 and “Getting Past the Pilot” from 9:00am to 10:00am on March 12, both of which will also be held in room N260. For more information, go to sndcom.us/16rnEwk.
This new track was developed with feedback from integrators in mind. “DSE develops its educational program based on input from past attendees, DSE advisory board members and dedicated education committees,” said Goldberg. “Based on the expressed demand for small group discussions, DSE is including Idea Exchange sessions throughout the 2015 educational program.”
“DSE also offers Industry Roundtables, which are exhibitor-led small group discussions held in a dedicated space on the show floor,” added Gibbs. Integrators should be sure to check out the Industry Roundtable, “How to Enter the Digital Signage Business Without Losing Your Shirt,” hosted by Mike White, CTS, President of Multi-Media Solutions Inc., which will take place from 11:00am to 12:00pm on March 12. (You should also check out his article, “Doing Digital Signage Right…The First Time,” in the January 2015 issue of Sound & Communications or at sndcom.us/1ve2NmD.)
Of course, one of the best ways to learn about the attention-drawing power of digital signage and how best to harness the technology is to simply take in the sights around the Vegas Strip, where eye-catching displays cover just about every building surface. “Systems integrators and installers may be interested in our annual guided digital signage tour of Las Vegas, which this year will provide behind-the-scenes visits to The Linq, Boulder Casino, SLS Las Vegas Hotel, the Las Vegas Convention Center itself and the convention center’s ARAMARK-operated food court,” explained Gibbs.
There will also be plenty of chances to earn certifications during the show. “Many systems integrators have taken advantage of the pre- and post-show Digital Signage Expert Group courses to attain professional certification,” said Gibbs. As has been the case in past years, these professional certification courses will be available in both English and Spanish.
The show is also an incredible business opportunity, and not just because it presents a great chance to strike new deals with an ever-expanding cast of manufacturers and distributors. “Commercial AV integrators and installers should use DSE not only as an opportunity to learn what’s new but also to review their business model,” said Goldberg. “Many still treat digital signage as a ‘hang-and-bang’ business, without regard to recurring revenue streams that may enhance their business opportunities and client relationships.” Several seminars and roundtable discussions will provide integrators with the know-how to use digital signage to encourage continued business with clients. Those looking for new
signage-based business opportunities should also consider membership in the Digital Signage Federation. “DSF membership can really pay off by offering access to vendors, end users and consultants who share in their desire to drive the industry higher through innovative business practices, high ethical standards and sharing of insight and experience,” explained Goldberg. For more information on the DSF, stop by booth 1613, or go to digitalsignage federation.org.
All of these seminars and courses will provide an overview of the directions in which the digital signage market is trending. “What appears to be happening in the marketplace that is of prime importance to integrators, as well as other industry professionals, is a growing focus on the customer experience in a multi-display world and the integration of digital technology into the built environment,” offered Gibbs. “In other words, we no longer can think of digital signage as simply being a display hung on a wall. In fact, today we may find the wall itself has become the display, and an interactive one at that.”
As far as the future of digital signage hardware itself, “We expect Ultra HD to continue its expansion in the display market, but we also expect to see OLED starting to gain a foothold,” said Goldberg. “We also expect to see displays to be shown in almost every practical size and shape imaginable, from wide, narrow rectangles to convex and concave curves; from tiny shelf displays to large videowalls. Player technology is also evolving, with large, more costly PC-based players being challenged by compact, less expensive solid-state players, including ARM-based systems.” Goldberg went on to suggest that it is especially beneficial for integrators to stay on top of these technological advances. “For integrators, understanding these trends is particularly important in that they are likely to be challenged by all combinations of new build-outs, retrofits and technology swap-outs. Understanding what is in play is one way to be prepared when customer questions arise.”
DSE 2015 will also offer insights into new industry standards and practices. “For exterior digital signage, primarily LED displays that are cropping up in the front of schools, churches and businesses, integrators need to be aware of zoning codes because some municipalities have restrictions regarding the use of any sign-
age, but particularly lighted displays,” explained Goldberg. “For interior digital signage, many installations, especially interactive ones, typically must be ADA compliant. There is also an industry movement toward more energy-efficient products, which is important for many installations.”
Goldberg also stressed the importance of safety when installing digital signage, especially in high-traffic public spaces. “Of particular concern since the collapse of a large, free-standing display at the Birmingham AL airport is the safe installation of displays so there is no danger of their toppling or falling.”
In addition, the DSF plans to track new digital signage standards, emerging technological trends and all legislation affecting the industry major priorities moving forward. According to Goldberg, “DSF’s Standards Committee, which developed a widely praised Privacy Standard, is currently being reconstituted to focus on newly emerging issues.”
One of the biggest Digital Signage Expo attractions is the annual APEX Installation and Content Awards Ceremony, where the most innovative achievements in the development and deployment of digital signage technology, as well as originality in content applications, are honored. The awards are presented on behalf of DSE and Exponation, with recipients chosen by a panel of digital signage industry insiders. Sound & Communications Editor David A. Silverman was again on this year’s judging panel. “Having been involved in this judging for most of the program’s history, it is exciting to see more integrators entering the APEX Awards program than ever before,” said Silverman. This year, 32 finalists were nominated for APEX Installation Awards, with 28 nominated for APEX Content Awards. For a complete list of nominations, go to sndcom.us/1vdLzFU.
In a break from years past, the 2015 APEX Awards Ceremony will be a breakfast banquet, rather than the customary evening dinner banquet. The ceremony will take place Thursday, March 12, from 7:30am to 8:45am. When asked about the change, Gibbs explained, “We decided to move to a breakfast format to allow for more participation from both our attendees and exhibitors.”
With so many educational opportunities spread throughout the event’s four days, as well as the wealth of new technologies that will occupy the show floor, DSE 2015 is shaping up to be a must-attend event for integrators. If you plan to be at the show, stop by and visit Sound & Communications at booth MC7. We’ll see you in Vegas!
To see a selection of products being introduced at DSE 2014, turn to page 60. Additional products will appear in our April issue.