Digital signage quickly established its place as “must-have” technology largely thanks to its massive flexibility, which meant that it could find a use in almost any kind of environment.
Now digital signage is being paired with the Internet of Things (IoT) for what is shaping up to be a powerhouse partnership.
The Internet Versus the Internet of Things
Many uses of digital signage take advantage of its capability to connect to the Internet. For example, it can be used to provide real-time data from RSS feeds.
Connecting digital signage to the Internet of Things offers the potential to take this to a whole new level. Smart cities (probably most notably New York) are already partnering digital signage with the Internet of Things to make life easier and safer for the people in them with an eye to the management of emergency situations.
In the commercial environment, this partnership is most likely to be used to present content that is precision-focused on the customer(s) using the digital signage and, as such, its development will be based on two key questions:
What is the most relevant, real-time data for this customer? AND which real-time data elements contribute most to a meaningful return on investment (ROI)?
To address the first, interactive digital signage currently requires some level of input from the customer to initiate the engagement in most cases. This forms a barrier to entry, albeit a low one.
When digital signage connects to IoT, it will be able to communicate directly with mobile devices and wearable technology, enabling it to anticipate what the customer wants and provide it to them directly.
It may also continue to communicate with the customer’s own devices to provide help and guidance until the customer has completed whatever it was they intended to do.
For example, in retail environments, the customer may use an app to make an initial selection of items and then use the larger screen of the digital sign to virtually “try them on” virtually before having the sign send directions to their phone to enable them to find their shortlist of items on the shelves.
Then, if necessary, this path of real-time data can allow customers to try their chosen items on in reality before going to the counter to pay (or possibly going back to the digital sign to pay).
As for which real-time data elements contribute most to a meaningful return on investment (ROI)…
In principle, digital signage and IoT could provide customers with almost unlimited real-time data, but in the real world, this will almost certainly be unnecessary and undesirable.
Instead, businesses will need to identify and focus on the uses that deliver the highest ROI, and it is very likely that, in many cases, this will simply mean that the use of IoT allows for a more polished spin on the way digital signage is already used.
For example, in the hospitality industry, digital signage is already used to display special promotions. With the help of IoT, it could be used to connect with loyalty apps on customers’ mobile devices and to bring up customized offers when they are in “buying position” i.e. at the till or in the presence of a server.
The list could go on, but it’s clear that digital signage and IoT will have great synergy across a range of industries going forward.