Why We NEED the Digital Signage Market (and Why You Need an Evangelist)

By Gary Kayye, CTS

soapbox-0709The ProAV market is slow.  Sure, it’s picking up a little, but it is no where near where it was in 2005 and 2006.  And, it’s now clear that we’re not going to see major movement in this market until at least Q1 2010.  Design consultants in the ProAV market are slow.  Some will hide this fact from you as they want to keep up a good image, but they are slower than they have been in more than ten years – and I don’t mean SOME of them; it’s MOST of them.

But, the Digital Signage market is developing rapidly and it becoming as mainstream in ProAV as the Educational or Corporate AV markets are.  Sure, it’s new, but it’s the fastest developing market I’ve seen in my 22-year AV tenure.

So, what now?

Well, you’re on your way – being a subscriber of rAVe DS means you care about the DS market enough to read about it.  But, are you moving towards addressing it, specifically, yet?  Do you have a DS evangelist yet?


Look, think back to new, evolutionary market trends in ProAV over the years.  Remember the emergence of the Classroom AV market?  Or, how about the beginning of the portable projector market?  Videoconferencing?

When those markets first appeared in ProAV, didn’t you have an evangelist (someone in sales or marketing who took it upon himself/herself to be the resident expert in it) – and then, everyone turned to them as systems were designed for those markets?

Listen, the Digital Signage market is more than just a segment of the display market.  That’s my point.

rAVe DS was started and designed to be an educational tool/resource for the ProAV market to help them (you) get into the DS market.  We’ve spent 2009 focused on doing that.

But, some of you out there still see the DS market as an arm of the flat-panel display market – and it’s FAR from that!  Far, far away.

In fact, if anything, it’s a segment of the IT market.  It’s video networking, technically, of content via IP.  So, you’ve got to become IP pros – not because we want you to get into the IT market, but because you need the skills required for IT to integrate a DS system.

How many of you out there are Cisco certified?

Are you even registered for the DSE (Digital Signage Expo) show?  Are you at least sending your Evangelist?  In case you didn’t know, you can register here:  http://www.digitalsignageexpo.net/Events/DigitalSignageExpo2010/tabid/72/Default.aspx

If InfoComm 2009 did one thing, it proved how mainstream the DS market’s getting.  There were well over 200 booths with DS-related products and technologies and InfoComm is hurrying to add even more DS to their educational curriculum and future events so as not to be bested by the DSE-folks themselves.  Don’t get me wrong, the DSE show is THE DS show right now and give credit where credit is due – expoNation had the vision to start this show a few years ago while only almost no other AV show noticed.

So if you’re feeling confused about where to start, do this first: find within your organization, or hire, a DS Evangelist. Have them become Cisco certified, send them to the DSE show, and have them take classes on the AV or IT side of DS, depending on where their experience lies. As a business owner or manager, work in conjunction with your DS evangelist to develop a strategy for your company to enter the market.

Your DS Evangelist needs to understand a lot more than AV gear. They need to understand networks, and they need to understand advertising and services, because ultimately, that’s where DS is really going to make everyone money.

We’ve been preaching for years about how you need to make your business model less hardware-based and more service-based, because that’s where all the long-term potential for revenue is. Digital Signage is naturally service-based, so here’s your chance to change the way you make money. Your Evangelist needs to be on board with this philosophy. Maybe it’s the guy who came up with, or was most successful at selling, your service contract. But finding that person who really believes this is the future of the industry, and your business, is the first step. Start there.