Ask the Board – September 12, 2016 | FRANK MCGUINNESS


Why do you think we’ve seen an increase in focusing on displays and hardware rather than concepts and communication?

If this is the case, and I’m not saying it is for all vendors, there are probably a few reasons for it. There always seem to be cyclical periods in a lot of industries where vendors seem to concentrate on “feed and speeds,” where the focus is on dramatic increases in the specs from last year, or at least a healthy boost from a competitor’s recently touted advance.  Sometimes, this is driven by the customer needing more.  Saying that “if only this” were faster we could make this vision, new application, amazing feat possible.  The increased speed doesn’t always grant that, but it is certainly nice to see some advancement one can report back on after an industry event.

Admittedly, those “if only this” conversations sometimes open new frontiers for end users of digital signage technology. Either we realize there is a bigger box of proverbial crayons out there, which we hope to get on next year’s budget, or decide we are going to build it bigger, better and cheaper ourselves.  Regardless, we push the industry to help fulfill our vision, and the industry pushes back for us all to adopt a slightly vendor specific version of our vision, hopefully with a support contact attached.

For display technology, a lot of the growth that catches my eye comes from malleability, moving steadily away from a traditional flat display into a cornucopia of shapes and sizes.  Some of this is just applications of existing technology responding to customer needs while others are true breakthroughs.  For example, a lot of our retail spaces weren’t always designed to handle a large hanging display, or the location’s theme wouldn’t mesh properly.  Curved displays, displays with thinner and thinner designs and non-existent bezels, all allow end users to “fit” technology into their space.  This is our never-ending game of technology Tetris, in which changes in capability open up new strategic options for users. Toss in the ability for a lot of this to be very low powered in nature, and it is a brave new world of options indeed.

Another reason for the focus might be in that certain concepts are becoming more broadly known to end-users.  It is pretty incredible how comfortable people in general have become with the concepts of streaming video across channels, high-end display terminology and even basic content management.  We use more and more of these technologies within our homes than ever before, leading to a degree of tech literacy that aids in jumping conversations forward for signage as part of our businesses. Users might evolve from their own DIY solutions, coming forward with a better appreciation of their needs, and current system’s limitations. So this might shift the focus of vendors to speak more to those all-important feed and speed numbers, and let the user compare and contrast appropriately. As for tomorrow, we will awake to news of a new product offering with at least one quantitative measure doubled if not quadrupled.  Do we need it desperately? Maybe yes, maybe no.  But deep down, we will start dreaming about what we can do with that bigger box of crayons in hand.

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Integration Consultant
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts

End User Council

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