Is this dynamic medium the next horizon for print service providers? Here are four print shops that have experienced varying degrees of success with electronic digital signage and display work.
Despite all he’s learned over the last few years. Albaugh remains convinced these are sign systems with a promising future. “As a company, I think you really have to embrace and build a digital signage section of your business if you want to succeed in that market,” he says.
“That means you need to add people who understand IT and the hardware, and content developers. I know it can be done, but the question is still there: How much of a commitment do you want make?”
Mastering new tools: BigIdea
For John Rodriguez, owner of BigIdea (www.bigidea.net), Hollywood, Florida-based specialists in large-format graphics, dynamic digital signage seemed the perfect opportunity to tap his experience and grow business in new directions.
Rodriguez grew up in the sign business, but spent several years away, working in IT and networking. “When I returned to the sign industry six or seven years ago, I kept watching all the new technology as it came along. Digital signage seemed like a natural progression for our business.”
Since formally entering the digital market last year, BigIdea has built and installed systems in a variety of institutions and retail operations. It’s marketing the technology for all types of businesses, from banks to hotels to schools and sports arenas. Based on the experience so far, Rodriguez considers it a market with both opportunities and obstacles for companies approaching it as a sideline to the graphic printing business.
Growing awareness certainly justifies investigating this area. “Digital signage is becoming more ubiquitous,” he notes. “People are seeing these systems in their banks, at the doctor’s office, and the grocery store, so they at least understand what you are talking about when you mention them.
But, it would be a mistake to assume that a company’s success in large-format printing is easily transferrable to digital signage, he says. Carefully weigh all aspects of the venture before making the leap, Rodriguez advises. It can entail challenges in technology, staffing, marketing, and client perceptions about where to buy these systems.
His tech background taught him to proceed with caution, and not make a move until he was confident in the technology. “We began thinking seriously about getting into digital signage two or three years ago,” he says. “We took a long time evaluating all the systems, to see what would work and what wouldn’t work for us.”