Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Digital Signage Expo (DSE) in Las Vegas. I hadn't been for a few years and was eager to see what was new that could be leveraged in the restaurant space. While it was amazing some of the new technology that is available today (3-D imaging for signage and the ability to project images onto glass for large outdoor displays as some examples) the number of true fully-baked applications for the technologies remain numbered. It is a shame that the industry as a whole has not done a very good job making a case for digital signage or menu boards from an ROI perspective. I attended numerous sessions that tried to address this elephant-in-the-room, but the speakers made a point of saying that ROI, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder. The prevailing theme was, "you need to build a plan, decide what you want it to do, implement it, and then measure it." While I can't argue with that, few operators have the time to take on a science project on this size, resource, and magnitude without some basic assurances (based on previous deployments) that the technology properly implemented has the capability and potential of achieving the desired results. When I purchase a car I at least am given sufficient reason to believe that it will get me to and from my destination, will move at over 45mph, and will get me at least 15-20 miles to the gallon. Those are givens. Shouldn't we have some basic expectations when we take on a DSE project?
Don't get me wrong; I am a believer. I think that DS has a huge opportunity in the industry and when properly leveraged can have significant positive impact on the profitability of the business. It isn't, however, a silver bullet. Simply replacing a static menu board with a static digital menu board will not move the needle, nor will simply throwing up some animation for the sake of animation. It is a new medium with new ideas, and takes a fresh way of thinking and addressing it in order to be effective. Along with the new thinking comes the some old basic tenant however: integration. Do not look at digital signage as a outlier to your technology strategy; bring it inside the tent or it will eat up your resources managing as a separate silo in your technology estate.
More ideas on the emerging value of digital signage to follow - please provide your feedback as I love to hear other thoughts and ideas.