What I Tell Mobile Solution Providers

It’s the venues who will ultimately control convergence

I was recently contacted by the CEO of a major mobile messaging company and asked if it would be beneficial for him to attend one of the upcoming digital signage tradeshows.  He indicated that he wanted to introduce his company and the mobile value proposition to digital signage exhibitors in an attempt to build a foundation for exploring opportunities to work together.  My advice to him: Don’t bother.

Those of you who have been following my writings know that I have been an unceasing advocate of the convergence of digital signage and mobile technologies.  So why would I tell a leading mobile company not to bother with digital signage tradeshows.  Two reasons:

  1. The lack of homogeneity within the digital signage industry would limit his ability to deliver a broadly coherent and appealing message.
  2. Those who exhibit at digital signage tradeshows are not those to whom he would sell his products.

Regarding the lack of homogeneity, there is a common misconception by those outside of the digital signage industry that all digital signage providers are the same.  There is little understanding of the various economic and operating models that exist within our industry.

Those outside the digital signage industry do not typically know who the companies are that sell only hardware (e.g. media players, servers, screens, video switchers, mounts, etc), sell only software (e.g. content management systems, content design tools, network monitoring, etc.), sell only services (e.g. consulting, content creative, solution design, installation, etc), sell a mix of hardware, software and services or sell the total solution (e.g. hardware, software, services and support).

Those outside the industry are unaware that of those that sell the total solution some provide venue-managed solutions, some provide third party-managed solutions and some deliver their own form of managed solution.

Those outside the industry are unaware that some solutions are sold for the purpose of showing advertising, some are sold for the purpose of supporting venue messaging priorities and some are sold for the purpose of supporting both advertising and venue priorities.

Finally, those outside the industry do not know that some solutions are hosted while others are premises-based.

In order to successfully deliver his message, the mobile CEO would need to tailor his message to appeal to each of the aforementioned constituencies.  More importantly, he would first need to know which of these constituencies would even be receptive to his message.

Receptivity.  That’s the key point.  As referenced in point #2 above, those who exhibit at digital signage tradeshows are not those to whom a mobile company would likely sell its wares.  Mobile companies need to sell their services to those who are actively involved with managing a venue’s message to the market as well as their customer engagement strategies.  This is a group that is not likely to be at a digital signage tradeshow.

So why do I promote mobile/signage convergence when there is so few within the digital signage industry who would be interested procuring mobile solutions?  Two reasons:

  1. The digital signage industry needs to be aware that mobile technologies are both a competitive threat and a benefit.  The industry must be prepared to speak to this when asked by prospective buyers.
  2. Venues who purchase digital signage need to be aware of the value of converging digital signage and mobile.  After all, it’s ultimately the venues who will control convergence.
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