Our industry is more diverse than it’s ever been. The IHS Markit Digital Signage Industry Market Tracker presents separate data in eight vertical markets, and many of these verticals are themselves very diverse. ‘Retail’ extends from corner shops to Harrods to large supermarket chains. Hospitality spans everything from fast food outlets to Michelin-starred restaurants. Each vertical and related sub-vertical has very specific requirements for its digital signage hardware and software. To meet these needs, the industry needs to move out of its silos and recognise the need to work together not only to deliver for one’s existing customers, but also to open markets that currently don’t use digital signage at all.
There are core requirements that span every market. Signage needs to be secure, stable, easy to update and affordable. That means using a relatively standardized hardware platform across many segments to deliver economic performance and reliability. But the platform also needs to be flexible, allowing businesses to respond quickly to new challenges. If there is one lesson from Coronavirus, we learned just how quickly industry-altering challenges can emerge, causing quick and far-reaching changes across markets. The flexibility to respond to such changes is bolstered by a plethora of CMS and digital signage software solutions tightly integrated within the platform.
Our industry needs to adopt an ecosystem-driven way of thinking, similar to what has proven so successful in consumer electronics. This approach is based on open APIs. BrightSign has implemented this on BSN.cloud, allowing partners small and large to build solutions addressing the segments and niches that they have identified, creating for some a powerful new route to market. For customers, this has greatly expanded their choices. They can select their preferred CMS in a drop-down menu and provision the BrightSign player or fleet of players for the chosen CMS with a few clicks of the mouse – a level of integration unique in its depth and breadth. This newly born BSN.cloud ecosystem has already been embraced by more than twenty of the industry’s leading CMS and digital signage solutions providers.
In five years, the IHS Markit industry survey might present data on 16 or more segments: some of which likely haven’t yet emerged. To encourage this growth and manage this diversity, we need to be an industry that gives its customers a real choice amongst the multiple solutions that they can now access, and we need to be an industry that encourages innovation. We need to provide broad market access to our entrepreneurial software providers, for they will be the ones to pioneer adoption in verticals that haven’t noticed us yet – and that we haven’t spotted either.