Guest Post: The Next-Generation of Digital Signage – Beyond RSS Feeds

October 29, 2010 by Dave Haynes

From Times Square to retail storefronts to airport terminals, digital signs are gaining traction at a remarkable pace. A recent study by Northern Sky Research found the digital signage market has emerged even stronger following the economic downturn, allowing organizations across industries to easily capture the attention of important audiences – whether customers, employees, partners, or other constituents. As a result, one would assume that enterprises are taking full advantage of the communications power that digital signage presents. Or are they?

Mention the word “digital sign” and images of advertisements and breaking news headlines typically come to mind. With that type of content, organizations are often targeting those outside of company walls, such as prospective customers or passerbys. That approach certainly makes sense when stats show using digital signage in a retail environment, for example, can pull in 32.8 percent more store traffic.

But, the potential of digital signage to drive sales is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s really all about developing targeted messages to specific locations at specific times and therefore, the possibilities to reach individuals both outside and inside the organization are seemingly endless.

Organizations are getting much more creative and strategic about how they use digital signage on a daily basis, with many integrating signage into overall corporate, product, and employee communications. While pushing out ads and live RSS feeds still has great merit, taking digital signage to the next level can deliver tremendous financial, operational, and environmental rewards.

We’re seeing the next-generation of digital signage unfold around us, and it’s focused on three critical areas: training, compliance, and live broadcasting. Businesses are taking existing display devices and are pushing customized content, whether live or on-demand, to educate, influence, and update key stakeholders.

Here are some real-world industry examples of how digital signage has evolved and is now coming into play:

? Retail: The same devices that push in-store ads and product promotions to potential customers are being used to communicate in real-time with employees. From on-demand sales training, to live streams from executives about star performers and current product promotions, to support for industry-regulated educational initiatives around labor laws or PCI compliance, digital signage is allowing retailers to reach employees faster and more effectively than ever before.

? Manufacturing: Digital signage on manufacturing floors is driving critical safety and compliance training, with mandatory videos being pushed to staff whenever and wherever needed. Display devices can be automatically turned off and on, allowing manufacturers to take advantage of impromptu staff updates related to the workplace, supply chain, or customers.

? Education: Already outfitted with projectors and plasma screens, K-12 through higher education institutions are going beyond RSS feeds to broadcast live content to students, such as emergency broadcasts and announcements from heads of schools. Digital signage is also supporting the use of on-demand classroom instruction to support dynamic learning and to provide more regular, ongoing communications, whether about lunch options, upcoming sporting events, new extracurricular activities, etc.

? Enterprise: Corporations from all industries are leveraging the benefits of digital signage beyond the standard “play lists.” From live executive communications and corporate announcements to “breaking news” and employee recognition, enterprises are reaching their internal audiences far more effectively. Training, “best practices”, and key messages are reaching more employees in more venues improving productivity and increasing skill-sets.

The bottom line is the benefits of digital signage go well beyond enhancing brand awareness. From boosting employee morale and improving staff retention to extending training reach and driving compliance, digital signage is a great avenue to reach more people, more often, and with more impact. Not to mention this effective electronic means of communication reduces the need for travel and paper-based communications, while improving workforce productivity, all resulting in tremendous cost savings and environmental benefits.

You may be asking yourself, “What has our digital sign done for us today?” Get creative! Make sure your messages are more compelling and memorable in order to capture the attention of those audiences that matter most. Use those displays to reach your constituents most effectively. The next generation of digital signage isn’t just for advertising – it’s part of your strategic communications strategy!

(Tom Racca is the President & CEO of BurstPoint Networks. BurstPoint Networks’ technology enables enterprises to use video to communicate smarter, faster, and more effectively with customers, partners, employees and investors.)

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