The trip to Las Vegas for Digital Signage Expo 2010 was great. The entire Preset Group team was there, which made for a fun, busy week at the show. Our pre-show mixer went off like a rocket ship, seeing around 180 of the over 210 registered attendees make their way into Lavo for the event. The excitement from the mixer spilled over into our meetings throughout the whole week.
The thing that I enjoy most about shows like DSE is connecting with industry contemporaries and those who I have established connections with via online communication platforms. Having the opportunity to meet face-to-face with industry friends I have made through this blog, Twitter, Linkedin, and other social media channels is something that I cherish. At DSE, it’s the people you meet and the conversations that you have which make the event unforgettable. I always welcome the opportunity to meet new folks and share interesting conversations with people who exude passion for digital signage, retail customer experience, emerging communication platforms, etc.
I shared conversations with a wealth of uber-smart individuals on topics such as location-based mobile services, real-time news, the future of digital out-of-home media, social media pollination across the enterprise, using digital technologies to enhance internal communications, digital signage as a brand/customer experience gateway, emerging mobile platforms, etc. It’s in these conversations that industry participants and I waxed analytical on digital signage’s role in our communications ecosystem and the technology’s advertising future. To those who I shared conversations with, thank you. To those who I didn’t get a chance to connect with, please feel free to reach out if you would like to talk (best way to reach me is via email: firstname.lastname@example.org). I am always happy to talk and help out in any way that I can.
Thoughts from the Show Floor
I don’t think that a single person who attended the show would argue that the technology on the event floor wasn’t impressive. As you entered the expo hall floor, it was like a treat for your eyes. Digital signs stretched as far as the eye could see. From thin screens to video walls and outdoor displays, the technical side of the industry was more than well represented. If you love digital signage (I assume that you have at least a passing interest in the technology if you’re reading this blog), your feelings about the environment would run parallel to my own.
The technology that powers the digital signage and digital out-of-home media industries was front and center on the show floor. While screens, media players, and interactive elements stretched across every square foot of the Las Vegas Convention Center, such a setup ran counter to the goal of educating newcomers and longtime attendees about digital signage and future industry developments. For anyone that was new to the digital signage industry, they likely left the show floor with more questions than answers.
An enormous focus was placed on digital signage technology at the detriment of featuring solutions that solve real business problems. The show floor lacked balance between the hardware/software side of the industry and the experiences that the technology powers. Too much emphasis was placed on the physical boundaries of the technology. Many missed the chance to feature digital signage as a gateway to expansive customer and brand experiences. The technology, and all of the bells and whistles, are great to look at it, but the sheen of these objects fade if they aren’t framed within the greater context of digital signage’s far reaching impact.
Many people I spoke with described the show floor as “cluttered” or “difficult to navigate.” For some, it felt like a summer camp reunion, drawing the conclusion based on a limited number of attendees outside of the digital signage and technology industries. If you got a nickel for every agency or brand rep. that was at the show, you would barely be able to afford a fast food combo meal.
One industry friend who is extremely knowledgeable on digital signage technology even admitted that he dreaded walking the show floor. This sentiment came from someone who loves digital out-of-home media. I can understand why he felt this way. For anyone who was new to digital signage, these end users were met with software companies all appearing to do the same thing (some claiming they could do more, others claiming best-in-class solutions, and none willing to admit that a potential customer would be better suited speaking to one of their competitors).
One of the few advertising agency reps. in attendance equated the expo to a “picks and shovels show.” He found the show lacking in relevance to his specific discipline. He commented that his agency colleagues don’t have anywhere near the same interest in technology as he does. They just want to know that it works.
A screen is a screen, but a true digital signage solution is an experience. This is an ethos that needs to be shared across the industry and, most importantly, carried throughout the Digital Signage Expo.