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Industry Roundtable Day 9: Can Dynamic Signage be Successfully Added to Your Shop Mix?

14 days of critical information to prepare your shop for the year ahead.

Big Picture

Which technologies are on the upswing – and which are on the downswing? What markets and applications look to be hot next year? How much of a role will sustainability play in your company? Which profit centers should you invest in?

Get answers to these questions and many more, from six of the wide-format marketplace’s most informed analysts and consultants. Over the next couple of weeks, The Big Picture will post critical questions with invaluable answers from our panel – all designed to help you ensure that your company charts its best course for a prosperous year ahead.

Each day leading up to the SGIA Expo in Orlando, we’ll feature a round of questions and answers from our panel participants. For this year’s edition of our annual Industry Roundtable, our participants include:
• Lori Anderson, president and CEO, International Sign Association (ISA, www.signs.org);
• Marco Boer, vice president, I.T. Strategies (www.it-strategies.com);
• Tim Greene, director, wide format consulting service, InfoTrends (www.infotrends.com);
• Dan Marx, vice president, markets & technologies, Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA, www.sgia.org);
• Peter Mayhew, director, LightWords Ltd. (www.lightwords.co.uk); and

• John Zarwan, managing partner, J Zarwan Partners (www.johnzarwan.com).

Q: Here at The Big Picture, we continue to see interest in dynamic signage (electronic digital signage). It was a hot topic at the ISA Expo this spring, and even the FESPA event in London had a portion of the show floor devoted to the topic. Can print providers successfully add this to their mix of offerings?

Lori Anderson: Dynamic digital signage presents a significant opportunity for the future. As you noted, ISA offered an entire track of education at ISA International Sign Expo 2013 – and will do the same in 2014 – devoted to helping sign and visual communications companies explore this segment of the industry and to assess whether it’s a good fit. Too often, companies become overwhelmed by the components and the new language involved. But if you strip it down to its most basic form – signage – our industry brings many skills to the table.

Marco Boer: I’m not so sure of print providers successfully making the transition to electronic digital signage. It’s no longer about the output display but rather about the ability to manage a high-frequency of data, data that needs to be sold in much higher quantities in order to leverage the benefit and investment of electronic digital signage. By the way, it’s not the cost of the LCD panels that is the issue; rather, it’s the cost of the infrastructure to drive the data to the display screens, dealing with regulatory issues such as “are you broadcasting and do you need an FCC license,” etc. It’s a totally different business. This doesn’t mean wide-format print shops can’t transition, but it creates very high hurdles.

Peter Mayhew: Yes, if they take a structured approach. Like with wide format, there are many niches and opportunities. PSPs need to carefully consider their target market and develop products and services as a part of a structured business plan. The dynamic signage segment is growing and there is an underdeveloped local market to be exploited. But, it requires a longer-term plan to deliver the best ROI.

Tim Greene: There’s no question they can offer it, and we think there are some that are doing a good job at it. I love what Roland did by packaging up the components of a solution as an entry point to its sign shop customers. And I know that many of the sign franchises have made a lot of progress in terms of their franchisees understanding how to promote and sell digital signage as well.

Dan Marx: We’ve been talking about the opportunity in digital signage for more than15 years at SGIA, and I’ve talked to many digital signage professionals who see our industry as a ripe opportunity. My impression of this opportunity is that if sign and graphics producers want to get into this area, then they need to get in with both feet. I think they also need to determine the level at which they want to play in this area. Is it a three-screen setup for a local store, or is it a 3000-store network for a big-box retailer? Will it be visuals and sound? Who will create the content? Who will install the technology?

Did you miss Day 8 of our Roundtable discussion? Click here for what our experts have to say about Wallcoverings and Wide Format.


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