Let me tell you about what you won’t read in this blog: numbered or bulleted lists breathlessly exclaiming about the newest embedded computer or 4k screen. Sure, I guess both of those will be factors this year, but insignificant ones. They’re evolutionary at best.
The biggest trend I see is companies finally realizing that they need to have some sort of digital communications strategy and that in many cases it includes workplace digital signage.(DS). Why? Because “billboards” – whether corkboards or LCD screens – are still a great way to get information in front of employees walking around the premises. Probably always will be.
In 2013 we saw a lot of larger companies finally getting some direction from the C-suite that a digital workplace communication strategy was needed. This trend will accelerate throughout 2014 and into 2015. Really, how can it not? As the cost of hardware continues to decrease, the value proposition for digital signage is getting better and better.
Another trend in 2014 is the what I’ll call the ‘normalization’ of DS. By this I mean two things; the decline of gimmicks and the increase of true value. 3-D & 4k screens, gesture control, video projection onto unusual surfaces are all pretty cool the first time you see them, but is there any added value in using them? Not really. In fact, the content generation costs involved with any of them are prohibitive. What companies really want is to get their important messages spread throughout the organization. Period. It’s all about ease of use, content and reach.
The last trend I’ll mention is the continued evolution of DS to mobile. This one is really tricky for several reasons. First is that DS systems are paid for by a company, but many/most mobile devices are paid for by the user. That limits the amount of software that a company can reasonable expect a user to download. It also causes the issue of supporting numerous versions of iOS, Android and Windows Phone. And data security on non-corporate devices is problematic.
Second is the completely different user interface between DS and mobile. Finding a DS system that also works well on mobile is a real challenge. In fact, I haven’t seen a good one so far. So will 2014 be the year that we see this happen? Maybe, but one thing I know is that everyone is trying to figure it out.
With all this technology available to our industry, change is the one certain prediction for 2014. And I’ll reiterate is this: if you’re looking for a workplace DS system for your organization, don’t try to figure it out yourself. Find a reputable company that knows what it’s doing and leave the heavy lifting to them.