“What can we do to create a better environment to attract and support start-ups and new small businesses and/or developers who want to break into the industry?”
The key to a successful start-up always begins with understanding the marketplace and its competitors. The digital signage industry has many facets, and a new company can make a big splash in several different areas. Whether it is a new network, software, content or integration, it is critical to know all that you can about the space. The main challenge in that is the digital signage industry rapidly grows and evolves in many different directions. This makes it difficult for a newcomer to track and understand the many nuances that work well or could be improved. On top of that, unlike some other industries, there are no standards that digital signage must adhere to.
One way that we can create a better environment for start-ups to break into the industry is by creating a library of information, which could eventually lead to a basic set of principles to standardize different verticals. Outdoor advertising and corporate communications, for examples, have a different metrics for success. They also have a very different workflow, audience and strategy. Unless you have experience in either of those verticals, it will be hard to know what has worked in the past and what hasn’t. It will also be difficult to improve the market place if you don’t know what the customers are expecting. If there was a collection of knowledge that showcased market research, successful implementations and the expected functionality of a solution, then a start-up with limited experience could identify areas to focus on and hopefully bring something new and innovative. Simply having this information available to anyone is great, but presenting it in a way that fosters improvement in the industry as a whole could be far more valuable for everyone.
Innovation comes in many forms. I’ve seen several companies attempt to try and break into the signage industry by creating a product that solves a specific problem but ignores several aspects of signage that should be a standard at this point. It’s not for lack of caring that many of these functions are missing. It is simply due to lack of experience and lack of knowledge in understanding what customers are accustomed to with similar products. The driving factor of developing signage software is to accumulate features and functionality over time and create a one-stop shop for a customers to accomplish the many needs that they have. We could have a collection of information for aspiring software developers to reference and understand what customers are looking for. It could be a huge benefit to start-ups to have documentation on common workflows and challenges that pertain to specific aspects of the signage industry so they are compelled to address as many of them as possible without ignoring what many customers have come to expect from a reliable product.