As a first-time attendee at Digital Signage Expo, you will go through a whole range of emotions… from the “oooh and aaaah” of the visual experience, evolving into the awesome realization that all things digital signage are right there, in one place. As you walk into the exhibit hall, there is a tendency to be overwhelmed by the numbers, sizes and types of displays. From LCD flat panels and massive video walls, to the emergence of OLED and direct-view LED displays, the sheer variety of types, sizes and shapes will engulf you. As tough as it might be not to stop up front at the big boys’ display exhibits, my advice is to keep moving through, and do a walk-through of the entire show floor to get the lay of the land.
Keep in mind that the DSE is an “idea farm” as one colleague put it, and while digital signage is primarily a visual experience, beneath the surface it is much more complex than just the display, and comprised of several individual components. You should be looking at the multiple options available to you in every category, to realize your objectives and find ways to meet your challenges. Options may include mounts, enclosures and kiosks, content management systems, signal management, logistics, etc. The list can go on and on. These potential problem solvers are in booths of every size and shape, and shortchanging the middle areas of the exhibit floor all the way to the back of the hall is shortchanging the value of being there. Many attendees find just what they need at some of the smaller booths.
As you collect your thoughts and create your own game plan of what to see, keep in mind that this is your time to not only see products of interest but to interact with them. Don’t be afraid to walk into a booth and interact with a vendor. Yes, they do want to try to sell you something … but don’t let that intimidate you and keep you on the aisles looking in. It is one thing to see an item online and quite another to touch it and operate it, and most importantly have experienced people to answer your questions. The value of face-to-face show-and-tell cannot be underestimated.
If you think that the only value of attending Digital Signage Expo is the exhibit floor experience, you would be short sighted. As important as the exhibits are, digital signage education is just as significant. Each year, there are multitudes of seminars created for the people new to digital signage all the way to the more experienced. Education is comprised of tracks including introductory and technical, as well as topic-focused, and both vendor-neutral and vendor-specific classes. The seminars start the day before the exhibits open and continue throughout the show. As you will see, a combination of classroom and show floor time will make the best use of your DSE time. Our advice is to fill in as many blanks in your knowledge or experience as you can.
You may also want to take advantage of the industry certifications at the DSE. These full-day events take place the day before the exhibits open and the day after they close to give you the most time on the show floor and other classes. This year, the Digital Signage Experts Group with conduct the Digital Signage Certified Experts (DSCE), the Digital Signage Display Experts (DSDE), the Digital Signage Network Experts (DSNE) and the Digital Content and Media Experts (DCME).
When we think back to the first Digital Signage Expos and relive those initial experiences, the old phrase that you only get one time to make a first impression comes to mind. Beyond the glitz and glamor of the exhibits, there is fundamental knowledge to be gained and hands-on experience with a multitude of products. There is also the opportunity to network with exhibitors and classmates in the seminars to share your experiences. Ultimately, it is all about the experience, so make the most of it.