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How to Implement Digital Signage as Strategic Media

Apr 8, 2008 12:00 PM, By John W. DeWitt

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Can you provide examples of digital signage implementations that improve operations and enhance customer experience?

One of our customers uses interactive digital signage in conjunction with telephone display models. If you pick up a phone, the display gives info about that phone. Pick up two phones, and it gives you a comparison. While you’re picking up the phones, there’s a magnetic switch that sends a signal to the software. On the back end, the marketing guys get a count on which phones are being picked up, so the interactive signage allows them to take that data and use it to market more effectively.

With this type of implementation, a retailer also can have a .wav file that plays at the cash register and prompts a sales representative to show up in a timely fashion. For example, Omnivex has a car dealer customer with an interactive kiosk set up. When customers have drilled down to a certain point, the system prompts a salesperson to show up.

What are other ways that retailers can take advantage of realtime integration of digital signage with other business systems?

Retailers want to look at point-of-sale [POS] and inventory systems and tie into them. For example, they don’t want to advertise products that aren’t on the shelf while there are certain things the store wants to move more quickly. Or a new price comes out on a product and they don’t want price changes to happen at the wrong time. Because every store’s inventory turn will be different, they need to regionalize and localize information around the store’s particular situation. Today, this can be increasingly automated. You create rules to allow the system to automatically make changes based upon data mining. This allows the signage network to drive itself and be self-correcting. You measure results and tweak the rules to get the formula right to optimize your return on investment.

Marketers also want to know what’s going on in the network. Today, they can map every location where a particular ad or segment or interactive screen is running, and even drill down to the specific location. That kind of mining of data in realtime means marketers now know what’s happening in realtime and can respond accordingly.

How do such sophisticated approaches to signage impact the work of technology suppliers and systems integrators?

The bar is being raised substantially. Suppliers and systems integrators need to understand the customer’s business and how it runs, what makes it more efficient. When you’re integrating into point-of-sale and inventory systems, digital signage automatically becomes a strategic play versus a tactical play. The user needs to know how to take this communications medium and make the business run better. So implementers need to know where the business is making money, where it is not, and what are the needs for communicating with customers. In short, they need to understand business rules and goals. Moreover, from the technology operations side, security, encryption, and network bandwidth are becoming very big issues these days.

Therefore, today’s AV guy today is a lot different person than a few years ago because they have to offer this value-add to the customer and have to be able to understand the convergence of AV and IT. And as a software supplier, I have engineers whose job is to assist the integrators—they parachute in to support the customer’s IT department and the integrator.

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