Thursday, October 14, 2004

Digital Retailing Expo Summary

The inaugural Digital Retailing Expo was held in San Francisco October 11-12 2004. There were an array of digital signage vendors and service providers showcasing their technology. Before we recap the show, let us provide a little history and give credit to some digital signage pioneers.

Digital Signage History:
We remember Infocomm 2001 very well. Digital signage was a word that was not common and in all truth - attendees were not interested. They were not interested because they didn't completely understand the digital signage value proposition and it's benefits to the audio visual industry. Webpavement, Fred Systems, Scala, Visual Circuits, Coolsign and Omnivex were the only exhibitors showcasing digital signage solutions back then and are still around today. Of course there were value added distributors (e.g. Activelight) and display manufacturers that were using our digital signage media players in their booths, but we were honestly the collective group of digital signage pioneers.

Fast forward to Infocomm and NSCA 2002, 2003 and 2004.
Attendees were now starting to understand that digital signage is an area of great opportunity. This was primarily due to the CAP Ventures digital signage forecast of a $2 Billion industry by 2006. However, attendees would look at a (a) flat panel display (b) look at the multimedia content and (c) make a judgement that one digital signage software vendor is the same as the other vendor and would probably meet their requirements.

Digital Retailing Expo 2004
There were many signs (not digital signs) from the questions and conversations we had in the Philips Business Solutions / Webpavement booth that indicate the digital signage industry is starting to mature. Integrators and end customers are now asking the correct questions. They understand that digital signage software and hardware providers have built systems that cannot be internally developed. Our industry offers professional systems to meet the demanding requirements associated with digital signage networks and have come to fruition that they should not re-invent the wheel and let us handle digital signage technology.

Integrators and end customers now want to know about the software interfaces, functions and the system architecture (plumbing) that makes a distributed digital signage network operate 24/7/365. The answers to these questions will lead to scalability and reliability answers, software differences amongst the vendors and their ability to adapt to new requirements that surface due to new technology on the horizon.

We had a good time and look forward to working with all of our current and new partners.

This blog is a high-level summary of the show. We will follow up with new blogs that offer more detail on announcements and other happenings at the show. Contact us if you have a specific topic you would like to hear about.

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