History’s first-ever D=SIGN: The Digital Signage Conference — an exciting new event created by AVIXA and the Digital Signage Federation (DSF) — began Tuesday. The two-day conference, delivered virtually this year,* was packed with products, education and networking for those in the digital signage industry: think AV integrators, retail/hospitality/healthcare/QSR operators, media and content professionals, and creative agencies that make the content for digital platforms. D=SIGN ran on the interactive LAVNCH platform, which has hosted other virtual events this year like Futuresource Consulting’s Audio Collaborative 2020, NSCA’s Pivot to Provit Virtual (P2Pv) and the DPAA’s Video Everywhere Summit.
Excited to see what was in store for the show’s debut? Here were some of our favorite sessions from D=SIGN, Day 1.
*Some exciting news! Per the D=SIGN website, we learned that AVIXA and the DSF are planning for the D=SIGN conference to make an in-person debut at InfoComm 2021 in Orlando!
Keynote: Revisiting Our Potential
You know and love Laura Davis-Taylor from her active work in the digital signage industry. For that, we were thrilled to watch her keynote session Tuesday, called “D=SIGNing for the Present and Future: Revisiting and Recharging Your Potential.” Recharging your potential is a strong idea: Thinking about what this industry can accomplish, it’s worth asking, Where are we in the digital signage industry today? Where do we currently stand after all? Davis-Taylor teed up Tuesday’s conversation to help us answer those questions.
This year, we’ve had to partner with both new friends and old friends, Davis-Taylor led. We’ve had to work together, reinvigorating the mission of “by members, for members” at the DSF and in our industry work. Important, always, is to keep in mind how impactful digital signage can be. “We in the digital signage industry can have such a big impact,” Davis-Taylor said. Just look at some of these fantastic case studies as proof, which changed the paradigm of what our physical spaces can be:
- The Guitar Hotel (Hard Rock Hotel) in South Florida
- “The Wilderverse” at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center
- Toronto’s Union Station Food Court
- New Wells Fargo Center Scoreboard
- The Fitting Room Pop-Up
- The Living Retail Lab
- The Arctic Refuge Experience
Seeing all these, it’s impossible not to feel the inspiration course through your veins after what’s been a very tough year. Davis-Taylor continued that, while meeting the expanded needs of today can be daunting, it’s also full of opportunity. In digital signage, we should always be thinking: How can we help next? How can we create business value for our clients and the people in their spaces?
Davis-Taylor transitioned to give us some updates on the 2020 AV Industry Outlook and Trends Analysis (IOTA) report put out by AVIXA. While, like most industries, digital signage dropped substantially this year, it’s going to come back even better — “with a vengeance,” Davis-Taylor added. With this context in mind, think about your own company and how you can grow within the new demands. What do you offer, what should you offer, and what should we all be offering? Where can we solve the most pain?
It's time to break out of the box!
"Like you, we don’t know where the next year’s going to lead us. But what we do know is that we’ve got some guiding lights here. And we’re primed for growth now more than ever." – @laura_d_taylor during her keynote of #DSGN2020.#AVtweeps pic.twitter.com/dFxnKiUXN9
— rAVe [PUBS] (@rAVePubs) December 8, 2020
With at-home and in-person experiences blending, we, as consumers, will expect that digital thread to be there. Our customers need our help (digital signage professionals’ help) to work through that. This year, Davis-Taylor continued, we’ve had to push ourselves. In doing so, we opened the door as an industry to take these environmental spaces and go beyond digital signage. As people, as companies, as end user clients, we need to think about the mentality of learning more. The answers and the future will not be in our way of thinking — it will be with a wider-angle lens. Partner up with the people with whom you can solve issues faster. Continue to push and ask questions. Now’s the time to do it, after all.
Why Cloud-Connected Digital Signage Networks Are Important
Today, we have devices connected to the cloud, working in real time, changing the world with new technologies and new challenges. With these challenges, however, come solutions. Next up in our roundup of sessions we loved from D=SIGN was “From Hardware to the Cloud — The Many Advantages of Cloud-Connected Digital Signage Networks,” presented by BrightSign CEO Jeff Hastings. Diving into the advantages of digital signage cloud connectivity (and the challenges and advantages around it), Hastings started:
“The world of digital signage has been evolving very quickly.”
Defining cloud-connected digital signage, Hastings explained how, high-level, the network and server infrastructure allows many things to be connected at the same time. It’s about being able to access our applications in the cloud. To do this you need, for one, a player platform built for cloud connectivity. You need network management, also ensuring you have the core network. These are key to managing and creating profit in the digital signage business. Expanding on the latter, Hastings shared the essentials of network management:
Five essentials of network management in cloud-connected digital signage, as explained by Jeff Hastings:
Remote control of players
Network grouping & reporting
Secure & scalable
Unified interface#DSGN2020 @BrightSign @AVIXA @DSFederation pic.twitter.com/rQ1ovqqpNt
— rAVe [PUBS] (@rAVePubs) December 8, 2020
So what other factors would ensure success?
In a player, you really want to look for a commercial-grade platform built to do one thing: to run your digital signage. With an integrated solution, when you start thinking about adding extra applications on that player, you’re dealing with issues of security. Make sure your platform is secure and update-able, and make sure that the system is going to have longevity. Too often, people buy devices with no long-term support on the operating system. Hastings said you should look for at least six years of support (note that that’s not necessarily a six-year warranty, but that it should be supported/updatable for six years).
Hastings proceeded by digging into the business side of cloud-connected digital signage: in other words, simply, making money on your digital-signage network. Important here is looking at the total cost of everything, Hastings said; it starts with the player and the screen, but it continues into the total cost. Will it last for five or six years? Will it offer support for that length of time? Many people underestimate the costs of configuring and actually deploying screens. The deployment should take minutes, not hours, he argued. Considering a system, Hastings suggests we look for:
- Dedicated, scalable hardware
- Cloud connectivity
- Solutions that evolve with you, offering market growth potential
Hastings left us with uplifting perspectives. Touching on the economics of what’s going on in digital signage, he shared AVIXA’s POV at the growth potential in the overall market:
Notably, there aren’t a lot of business lines in the AV world with this type of potential over the next five years. Digital signage is one that’s not only solid but growing.
Beyond Digital Signage and Onto Digital Experiences
Today, people are craving shareable and memorable experiences that are unique. Remi Del Mar from Epson explained how digital signage can be a part of that conversation by transforming the customer experience through projection.
Del Mar kicked us off on our next D=SIGN session Tuesday with a throwback to a book written by Joseph Pine in the late ‘90s that still carries power: In “The Experience Economy,” we learn how much has changed since the industrial revolution. Then, in the more recent “service economy,” we learned people would pay a premium to have things delivered to them. (DoorDash, right?) The next stage of revolutions, Del Mar explained, is the “staging and experiential” economy — a movement from cost to value, where brands must stand out from each other with engaging experiences that are memorable. With that in mind, relating to the digital signage industry, customer experience will be the number one driver.
— rAVe [PUBS] (@rAVePubs) December 8, 2020
Del Mar explained how projector technology in particular has evolved to be able to deliver on these expectations in digital signage. Projectors are not bound by a physical frame, and you can project light on nearly any surface to create these amazing experiences, merging the physical and digital worlds into one. Immersive technology like projection can emulate a physical world through digital means, Del Mar added.
Epson’s work with The Temple House in Miami, Florida, is a great example. The space has become an open venue for weddings, events — you name it. Using Epson projectors and techniques like spatial design, a simple room becomes an entire experience, with no need to reinforce the walls. Also consider holographic experiences like those produced with Epson projectors and technology like Base Hologram’s.
With digital signage and “experience” culture, it’s not just about big and bold, Del Mar continued. There needs to be something more to engage today’s customers. Engaging doesn’t necessarily mean bigger — it means captivating consumers in an unexpected way. (Many stakeholders’ pain points are engaging first and informing second, she added.) Think about millennials specifically, who have (arguably very short) attention spans that will only reduce further with generations following, our youth less and less connected to the analog world. As technologists, we should keep our future customers and stakeholders in mind (Don’t forget about Gen Z!) to provide solutions that can serve the ecosystem long-term.
D=SIGN Day 1 (Wrap-Up): “How To” & Hardware Day
On Tuesday’s D=SIGN debut, we gained a fresh look at digital signage from a number of new and reimagined angles. There were 10 engaging sessions (most offering AVIXA CTS RUs if viewed live!) and networking events, though if you didn’t manage to catch them all, here’s a list of the full schedule and links to their recordings.
- Keynote: *D=SIGNing for the Present and Future: Revisiting and Recharging Your Potential (Laura Davis-Taylor). Sponsor: Sony — recording is here
- *From Hardware to the Cloud — The Many Advantages of Cloud-Connected Digital Signage Networks (Jeff Hastings). Sponsor: BrightSign — recording is here
- *Digital Signage 201 (Wayne Rasor) — recording is here
- *New Tech Lightning Round: Displays 1 (Moderator: Nicole Richardson; Speakers: Kianna Pompa, Remi Del Mar, Steve Gallant). Sponsors: Sony, Epson, Clear Touch Interactive — recording is here
- *Projection Technology Transforming the Customer Experience (Remi Del Mar). Sponsor: Epson — recording is here
- *Wayfinding: The Ultimate Digital Signage App in 6 Actionable Steps (Sean Matthews) — recording is here
- *New Tech Lightning Round: Displays 2 (Moderator: Nicole Richardson; Speakers: Almir DeCarvalho, Jim Vasgaard). Sponsors: Daktronics, NanoLumens, Samsung — recording is here
- *Day 1 Wrap-Up Panel (Kelly Smith, Michael Katz, Tony Green) — recording is here
- Digital Signage Case Studies
- Trivia (Host: Annette Sandler). Sponsor: Legrand AV
*AVIXA CTS RUs were available for this event if viewed live
D=SIGN Day 2 (Sneak Peek): CMS, Creative & Big Idea Day
Gear up for Day 2 of D=SIGN, “CMS, Creative & Big Idea Day,” starting Wednesday, Dec. 9, at 11 a.m. EST. (Lineup is here!) The day goes ‘til 5 p.m. EST (but stay ‘til 7 p.m. if you like the networking), and the content will be available on demand until Jan. 29, 2021, with registration. Speaking of registration, it’s still open at http://avixa.org/dsign.
Go grab your spot!