As digital signage and AV professionals know well, making predictions is a risky affair at any time, let alone entering a new year with powerful new technologies like AI changing everything we thought we knew about our industries. But it’s those very technologies, and the powerful opportunities they might bring, that make it ever more important to take stock as we enter a new year, so we turned to a longtime industry insider for insights.
Mike Tippets, VP of enterprise marketing at Hughes, joined our publication via Zoom to discuss the unprecedented changes and challenges of the previous year along with the opportunities and risks emerging from a soup of AI, reduced display cost and emerging technology. Entrenched in digital signage, pro-AV and IT since the early 2000’s, Tippets has a unique perspective on the interconnected verticals and how to maximize their potential.
Far from being afraid of the changes, firms need to embrace them and pivot into them, finding creative ways to use innovation as an advantage, not an obstacle. In Tippet’s view, cultivating a mindset of being problem solvers at the intersection of business and technology is integral to futureproofing.
Prediction and trends list (summary):
- Digital signage growth will continue strong.
- Industry will see accelerated company consolidation.
- Digital signage will become more central in workplace retention strategies.
- More user-sourced content will boost community.
- Artificial intelligence applications continue growing, but with an operations focus, especially in the short term.
Trend 1: Communication as the cornerstone of retention
Digital signage will continue to grow and become more mission-critical, especially with the rise of hybrid work.
“One of the challenges of digital signage has always been that it’s not [been perceived as] mission critical,” Tippets said. “And when budgets get tight, it’s one of those things that immediately gets postponed. But as companies realize that it is critical to talk to their employee base, they will realize that those deskless employees — like at distribution centers, grocery stores, retail locations where you don’t give everybody a desk, a computer, or even an email address — you’ve got to be able to communicate.
“I think in 2024 you’re really going to see that, because the labor market’s tight, and so forth, they want to retain those employees; and communication is a cornerstone to retention.”
Regarding movement to create omnichannel corporate communication that echoes omnichannel marketing strategies familiar to digital out-of-home marketers (including texting), Tippets thinks there will be a little growth here, but it will be slowed by obstacles.
“I believe you’ll see some of that, but I don’t think you’re going to see it be explosive. I think you’re going to see an increased number of screens on the wall where people work and where people travel in the course of their job, hallways and the like — that’s where you’re going to see an increased communication platform.”
Employees often resist using personal devices and personal data for work, while it’s expensive to provide them with company-owned mobile devices.
Trend 2: Accelerated consolidation
More and more large companies will continue to absorb smaller ones in the industry.
“I think you’re going to see an acceleration of consolidation,” Tippets said. “I liken the digital signage industry to the cable industry in the 1970’s. There were lots of little cable companies, in every little region, and the barrier to entry was pretty low — similar to digital signage. But what happens is, you get into it and realize, a simple PowerPoint system that you tried to update with a thumb drive can’t scale and won’t work.
“So, you’ll see the bigger players start to gobble up smaller players that have some niche functionality; and you’ll also see small players that don’t have anything unique simply get pushed out.”
Trend 3: Retention strategies – communication, recognition, growth
Digital signage will become ever more central to workplace retention strategies.
Tippets has a special passion for communication as a bedrock of retention, and shared insights on effective strategies.
“There are three legs to the employee retention stool: communication, recognition and growth,” Tippets explained. “Digital signage can help in all three areas.”
- Communication: “People want to hear what’s going on; if there’s no information, then they will assume negative information, and you want to prevent that.”
- Recognition: “People want to know they’re appreciated.”
- Growth: “Nobody wants to be doing the same thing two years from now that they’re doing today. They want to feel like they have advanced.”
Communication, including messages from the management team, video content and social snacking content are all valid strategies, and it’s especially important to recognize teams and individuals for outstanding accomplishments (such as meeting KPIs).
Video-on-demand content that helps employees develop professionally is powerful for growth and retention, and Tippets noted that these systems have proven popular with employees at firms where his team have installed such systems.
Trend 4: User-sourced content
As social media becomes ever more central to modern consumers and workers, they love to be empowered to source or influence content directly.
It’s important to remember that technology and digital signage used in communication is ultimately a tool for building community and culture with a human touch — but communication is not a one-way street, Tippets noted.
“I see crowd-sourced content, user-based source content becoming critical,” he said. Similar to the way some schools have seen retention and engagement improve by sourcing digital content with students, employees love to have a hand in creating content that fuels company communications and culture, including social media content.
“You’re going to start a revolution of community,” he added.
This doesn’t mean your company’s social media needs to directly integrate social media posts from, say, TikTok; but finding a way to give your employees a channel to communicate directly (and safely, of course) can have big results in team cohesion.
Trend 5: AI
No surprise in the business/technology world, AI will continue to grow, but with a focus on operations, at least in the short term.
“Where I see AI making an impact now is in operations,” Tippets said. For example, AI tools that monitor screens and verify whether the correct content is playing. If not, it can send a report or potentially even take action, whether that’s a reboot of the player or an update of the content suite.
“I think in the next couple of years, you’ll see the use of AI to create dynamic playlists,” he added, predicting that in the long-term (five years or more) AI will be able to create images dynamically for digital signage displays.
With such a broad and interesting discussion, we closed our conversation by asking Tippets what the most striking digital signage example he has seen in the past year.
“The Sphere in Las Vegas,” he answered, without hesitation. “And the inside is even more amazing.”
(2023, November 21). Daniel Brown – Editor, Networld Media Group. Retrieved from https://www.digitalsignagetoday.com/articles/top-5-digital-signage-trends-and-predictions/