End Users-The Heart and Soul of Digital Signage
By Alan C. Brawn CTS, ISF-C, DSCE, DSDE, DSNE, DCME, DSSP
I can think of no better time to write this my latest article on the eve and launch of the “new” DSE in Las Vegas. Our hopes are high. I can report that the DSF will be there in strength and that DSEG has a full house for the Digital Signage Certified Expert (DSCE) certification taking place this DSE eve. What this shows is the level of interest in the industry and in earning a professional certification. What this also shows is that the DSF as the voice of the industry is on the right track in their mission. Of course, I have more to say.
It is easy to get blinded by the glitz and glamour of a trade show and the exhibits (I call this the ooh shiny) but please permit me to tell you who the DSE show is really for. Drum roll please…it is for the end users. Over the years at the original DSE, between 60% and 70% of the attendees have been end users. I don’t have access to the statistics for the new DSE, but it is safe to say that the majority of attendees will be end users. Let’s cut to the chase. These are real buyers with real projects or future projects in mind with real dollars to spend. Pun intended; this is not virtual reality rather the real reality of end users who attend the show. Hopefully point made and taken!
There is no better place for exhibitors to prime the pump of demand. End users carry the message back home and if they employ a digital signage integration firm to help out with their project, they tell them their impressions they received at the show. Suffice it to say end users are the most vital part of the constituency of digital signage and I just suggest the heart and soul. Ultimately it is their passion and the passion of those dedicated to serving them that drives the industry. It is no surprise that the DSF has recognized this since its inception but recently they made some membership decisions that confirmed their recognition and dedication to the end user community.
I like what Frank Pisano, DSF Board Member and Membership Committee Chairman said: “The DSF Membership Committee spent the better part of 2022 talking to our members about what they valued most and enhancements we could make to their membership experience. Based on that direct feedback we’ve drastically improved our member tiers with added industry networking opportunities, continuing education, and getting our membership recognized and involved.”
If we “unpack” what Frank said, we can see that the DSF listens. At the core of this search for input, is the concept of understanding and then providing value for members and (please forgive what has become an overused word) the creation of an ongoing experience as a member of the DSF. What is so special about what the DSF Board and specifically what Frank and the membership committee did was to create new levels of membership. Of course, if you have read this far you don’t have to guess that my favorite part of this new membership structure is that end users can sign up for free. Yes free! All members receive access to DSF Micro-Credential education courses, discounts to industry events, placement in the DSF Speakers Bureau, and access to the soon to be released DSF Job Board. Now hear this end users, there are no roadblocks or impediments to membership. There is real value in education, networking, and yes, new experiences in digital signage that will benefit you along the way.
Lest you think that this is a one-way street, it is not. The end user community brings along with them new applications and fresh ideas that expand the paradigms some of us who may live in our own digital signage “bubbles” may find ourselves in. This group does not let us rest on our laurels and their out of the box or as my friend and past chairperson of the DSF Kim Sarubbi says “out of the rectangle” thinking on projects fly in the face of complacency. Just when you think you have heard it all or seen it all someone brings forth “what if”. This suggests that “you aint seen nothing yet”. As you may have surmised, every day is a new day in digital signage and more often than not end users wake us up.
Before I wrap up my “sermon” on end users and what they bring to the party, there is one other group of the DSF that I feel is worthy of special recognition. This group, the DSF Advisory Council, is not totally new but may be new to some. Formed in 2021 the Advisory Council is a 16-member group made up of key manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers to the industry. Read that suppliers dedicated full time to this industry with products, services, and support for the end user community. If the end users are the heart and soul of digital signage networks (and they are), the DSF Advisory folks are the people who provide the tools of the trade. This group provides industry insight, intelligence and thought leadership to the DSF Board. Advisory Council members play a critical role and help amplify and support ongoing programming like quarterly DSF Meet ‘N Mingle events, and DSF presence at industry conferences and trade shows. Great folks to know as if you have not already figured that out.
Let it be clear, the Digital Signage Federation (DSF) is THE non-profit independent voice of the digital signage ecosystem and community, and in this role, they take their responsibilities seriously with unmatched dedication. Before all else the DSF listens. They understand before they try to be understood. The new structure of DSF memberships is a response to what they have heard as they strive to meet the needs of the digital signage constituency and this vibrant and inclusive community. All I can say is thank you DSF for listening and doing something about it for all of us devoted to the art, craft, and science of digital signage.