Get Smart With Automated Digital Signage Applications

January 26, 2018 by guest author, Kenneth Brinkmann

Guest Post: Debbie DeWitt, Visix

We all want to be smart.

Debbie DeWitt

The word smart means showing quick intelligence, but can also mean socially elegant and sophisticated. In project management, objectives are sometimes referred to as S.M.A.R.T., which is an acronym for specific (a targeted area for improvement), measurable (a quantifiable indicator of progress), achievable (specific short- and medium-term objectives), relevant (in line with corporate outlook and goals) and time-bound (have a time-specific date to be accomplished). When thinking of your digital signage, regardless of your organization type, you want to be all these things – your content needs to be clever and sophisticated, it needs to look great, and you also want to be able to gather data to help you adjust your offering to constantly be engaging and enticing your audience. One way to do all this with minimum resources is with automated digital signage applications.

You’re probably already using at least some automated apps – your date and time widget, current weather, perhaps a news ticker that pulls info from outside sources. These are always accurate and fresh, always up to date, and no one on your team needs to do anything other than set them up and let them run. Can you imagine if an individual had to go out to the web every hour or so and update the temperature and weather forecast, as well as current traffic conditions and so on? They’d never get any other work done.

Basically, you have data coming in from various sources that has to then be visualized in some way that is easy to understand at a glance. External sources include things like the weather and traffic already mentioned, flight schedules, emergency alerts (including CAP), news, stocks and financial updates, sports scores, social media posts, health tips, community events and more – any RSS or MRSS feed can be turned into digital signage content.

This is far better than just showing a cable news feed to attract attention – digital signage feeds have already been curated and are designed to be appropriate to a general audience (so no inappropriate images pop up), are fully-licensed (so no copyright issues) and look great, plus they’re often already formatted for digital signage (in appropriate aspect ratios). Subscription-based feeds can be incredibly affordable (certainly less than a fulltime staffer going out and finding all this content, creating messages and then scheduling them). You can even go out and grab full or partial webpages to be displayed.

You can also display internal data using KPIs for just about anything you might need – sales figures, progress towards goals, production metrics, staff performance, CSAT rates, or just about any other data that can be compiled into a spreadsheet or XML file.

Whether the data comes from inside or outside your organization, it needs to be visualized so people can understand the information quickly. Graphs and charts, calendars, dashboards and other graphical formats are often best – they can communicate a lot of information at a glance and give context to stats. You can use these visualizations not only to inform people, but to encourage changes in behavior. One example of this is an energy dashboard that displays current electricity usage in the building, with a goal displayed somewhere in the layout. Organizations who use these find that simply displaying the usage stats encourages people to turn off lights when they leave a room, reducing overhead costs considerably. That’s a pretty powerful piece of visualized data, with real-world benefits and built-in ROI – and it’s automated.

Automation in digital signage is starting to really blend into the real world. Some software can auto-start displays at predetermined times (and switch them off again), as well as reboot the system. By combining communication protocols with cameras, sensors and beacons, it’s now possible to gather specific information about who actually stops and looks at your screens (or interacts with them if they have touchscreen capabilities), gathering valuable data on not only who they are (gender, age, etc.) but how long they spend looking at a message, and what emotion they might have been experiencing (through facial recognition software).

Other systems are in development that can configure and present digital content tailored to the specific audience in front of the screen, all without any human intervention. You know how Google, Facebook and other websites know things about you and send targeted content to you? Digital signage will soon be able to do something very similar. Some day in the not-far-off future, AI technology may even be able to spontaneously create digital signage messages, as well as format and schedule them.

People don’t interact with your digital signage hardware or software – they interact with your content. Automated content lets you show relevant, timely info with very little effort. It’s always fresh, always current, and is the secret to a value-driven digital signage strategy. Organizations can track information in order to constantly improve what they show on their screens, while audiences stay engage, informed and in the loop. That’s smart.

Leave a comment