Posts Tagged ‘bunn’

When “New” Really Means “New to Us”

December 1, 2016

new-to-us

Companies improve their results through innovating. Innovation is synonymous with advancement and in our world where enabling tools and solutions present constant opportunities, the challenges of selection is ever increasing.

 “New” most often means “new to us.” This brings a key dimension of evaluation because “new to us” can mean that competitors for share of wallet, time and attention are already benefiting from the new approach. Leadership in our world is more often defined as being a fast follower or part of the early majority of users.

Bob Amster, Principal of Retail Technology Group sums this up in saying that  “most follow, few lead,” adding that “innovation is dictated by a combination of imagination, perceived return, trends, culture and the personality of individuals making those decisions.”

The abilities to manage risk and for change management are some key ingredients of innovating.

Mark Ryski, Founder, CEO and Author, Headcount Corporation noted in a RetailWire comment “When it comes to innovation, retailers in particular need to focus on the critical few versus the trivial many of business challenges”. He notes “there are so many solutions available that determining which solutions to evaluate let alone implement is a problem. Retail executives need to be clear about their business objectives, set priorities and then narrow their focus to explore the solutions that can help them achieve these”.

Many innovations contribute to the accomplishment of a range of business priorities. Email and electronic commerce are good examples of broadly applicable enabling infrastructure, and umbrella approaches such as omni-channel marketing, customer relationship management and partnership strategy provide the context to assess the applicability of innovations.

Innovation only happens when somebody is expected to do it. Otherwise the force of inaction will prevail. Everybody in the enterprise must expect it from everyone above and below as a culture of innovation.

Patricia Vekich Waldron, Global Marketing Director, Retail, Consumer Products, IBM Corp cautions against trying to be incrementally better than the business next door, because consumers are measuring everyone against their last great experience regardless of what it was”.

Innovation in the “new to us” world can mean applying approaches that are proving successful in different applications. For example, quick serve restaurant drive-thru offers lessons to banking and parcel pick up. Museum, gallery and stadium media presentation offer lessons to malls and retailers. Corporate lobby display can take lessons from transportation messaging and trading floors.  

Lee Kent, Principal, Your Retail Authority, LLC advises that “The first step to saying yes to innovation is to be innovation-ready by creating an infrastructure based on a core. A core is established by looking at mission-critical processes focused around customers, suppliers and employees”.

When this is slow to emerge, innovation centers should be established to be a force for improvement by identifying and advancing business, marketing, operating and technical opportunities that others may overlook or that span organizational boundaries.

Dynamic in-store signage is an example of an approach that improves the productivity of place, processes and people and positively impacts many areas such as customer engagement, location appeal, branding, merchandising, supplier support, associate training, safety improvement, hiring, loss prevention and others. Introducing this approach requires executive or innovation group stewardship.

Digital signage and place-based dynamic screenmedia meet the definition of “new to us” innovation definition and criteria of many organization. It’s technology has been well-proven across and within business sectors even as the content that it is used to present is specific to the goals of the individual business. It’s customer engagement and business development value through branding and merchandising support traffic generation and revenue achievement, as does it’s bringing vitality and improved ambiance in locations where it is used.

For some organizations, the challenge of advancement lies in more fully using the innovations that they discover. The processes used for test, trial and discovery can differ from the budgeting and operational approaches that would allow an innovation to be more widely applies.

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Being innovative therefore entails defining approaches that are new to the organization, but also, advancing the ways that allow the benefits of these to be more fully realized.

Lyle@LyleBunn.com

Visual Vitality for Retail Locations

August 18, 2016

Anti-boring store

B-o-r-i-n-g ! While some may say it and others are thinking it about a retail location, you can bet that consumers will be voting with their feet and not just their wallets on a possible future visit. Without the visit the conversion opportunity is lost, and so for lack of customer experience, the kingdom is lost.

March 28-30, 2016 in Las Vegas will be an interesting time for retailers. GlobalShop will feature education sessions and the show floor will include about 800 providers of design services, flooring, lighting and fixtures, all intended to make the retail location interesting enough earn a patron visits. Layout and fixtures will be planned, purchased and installed, and the store will be locked into that design and experience for many, many months to come.

From season to season, calendar event to calendar event, little will change until the brand that year-over-year traffic is declining, the shopper loop is more shallow and dwell time is shortening. Staff turnover may even become an increasing cost factor as associates become complacent or even leave for places that offer more income potential and fun.

Meanwhile, at the same time at the Las Vegas convention center at the other end of the strip, the 13th annual Digital Signage Expo (DSE) will be in full swing presenting solutions to the problem of how to make retail locations better, and at minimal investment.

Vendors, including LG (which many claimed “stole the DSE16 show”) will show how vitality, ambiance and positive energy can dramatically escalate the customer experience with compelling, relevant, better targeted in-store visuals.

GlobalShop delegates who care most about their brand identity and cost-effective retail design will likely make their way to DSE to visit LG and others of the almost 200 providers, many of which partner with LG. Perhaps they’ll hit the high points of GlobalShop on March 28-29 and visit the DSE show floor on March 29-30.

Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) displays were unveiled last year and will be on full display again this year at DSE by LG.

The vibrant colors of images presented, the Wow-factor in fashion, outdoor, destination, action and lifestyle media that can make the store a destination and the ultra-thin, modern form factor that can fit into any store design or architecture makes OLED from LG a digital display that can attract traffic, increase dwell time and amplify the brands like no other retail device.

The inherent ability of digital signage to present images that are most suited to day and time, and the major calendar events of consumer’s lives, mean that store refreshment and messaging relevance are as simple as posting new media materials through an easy to use media management desktop.

When attracting attention matters, nothing suits retail vitality, brand alignment and conversion messaging like digital signage. And no digital signage display is as compelling to consumers as OLEDs from LG.

 

Lyle Bunn is an independent analyst, advisor and educator providing digital place based media subject matter expertise. He has assisted hundreds of organizations, published more than 350 articles, whitepapers and guides and helped to train more than 10,000 professionals. Lyle is a member of the Consultant Advisory Counsel of Digital Signage Expo and serves as a “BrainTrust” commentator of RetailWire. www.LyleBunn.com

When and How to Engage Digital Signage Suppliers

August 1, 2016

Supplier 1

Over an 18-month period, a large grocery chain had a standing time of 2PM on Thursday afternoon to hear from vendors about digital signage. A vendor calling to try to book a meeting was delighted to have a date offered by the secretary, who simply flipped forward to the next available Thursday at 2pm and added the vendor’s name to the calendar.

Whoever was able to attend from the grocer’s impacted departments such as marketing, IT, merchant relations, facilities and human resources would participate in the meeting. Hundreds of vendors presented, with some presentations including partner suppliers that might be part of a final solution. Many would request, and be given a second date to focus on key elements of the technologies in a possible solution.

Not very far into the information gathering process, the grocer came to believe they knew more about the medium than the vendors did. Whereas vendors were focused on the element of their particular expertise, the end user was seeing the big picture comprised of these individual elements and assessing what would be required for them to benefit most from digital signage. This chain had been an early adopter of looping video show on portable TV for product promotion, and their distance learning satellite system had been central to their staff training and internal communications strategies.

“Everyone believes their part is the most important” I was told by someone from the large grocery chain, “and very few had any idea of what it would take to truly do a cost/benefit or investment analysis, or create an overall project plan. Many did not appreciate the implications of implementation or the business challenges to be addressed”.

Despite this time consuming exercise, and the benefits that it could deliver, no investment was ever made. “Hearing about all the moving parts, system complexity and lacking the time or motivation to assess application possibilities and real ROI, we decided not to proceed,” said the grocer representative.

What are the lessons?

  • Digital signage needs to integrate into existing operations and do something better than existing approaches.
  • The property operator (in this case a retailer) is but one stakeholder in the decision process. In retail, merchants matter.
  • Technology follows intention. Presenting a solution when there is no appreciation for the business problem or opportunity is a waste of time.
  • Business value motivates investment.
  • Vendor selection was seen to be a complex undertaking, with the potential impact of the intricacies of specific solutions having to weighed in establishing the total cost of ownership.

The end user did the right and usual thing in investigating potential digital signage use, but became buried under the mountain of information and worthy considerations. Each department looked to every other one to identify themselves as the project champion, which points to the key learning.

The project champion along with lines of authority and responsibility must be clearly established as an initial step in the investigation and planning process.

Vendors found themselves laying their “pearls before swine” as the concept of operation that could be called “equal yoking” was never instituted.

Many suppliers presented their solutions while meeting the end user eye-to-eye. They were eloquent in presenting the “how” of digital signage that they would bring. They described the trunk, legs, tail, tusks and other parts of the elephant with which they are familiar in great depth, while overlooking the importance of establishing why an elephant is important to the enterprise.

A stronger positioning for the supplier would have been to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the end user to determine how the future could be different.

An “equal yoking” would result, as when beasts of burden are joined by a yoke placed around the neck of each to harness and direct their individual contributions.

Each of the end user and the supplier have a role to play. As each oxen or pulling horse in the yoke is entitled to expect the contribution of the other, lest they go in circles, so it is with end user and supply organizations.

Clarifying, refining and even validating the description of benefits that are to be derived is a mutually beneficial effort. The end user gets investment validation while the supplier is provided the opportunity to describe how their solution will maximize the benefit.

A wise procurement executive in a retail organization explained it simply as we were about to go into interviews of a short list of possible turnkey solution providers. He said “I just want to learn one thing… are they here for our benefit, or for their own”.

The best advice to end users is to define the business value and understand what “content” will be presented to achieve the greatest benefits. Then, technology selection can be made with the focus on fair and reasonable total cost of ownership over the operational life of the technology ecosystem.

End users should not become the swine toward which the best of suppliers will not cast their pearls. Those who bear little burden for describing their intentions will loose the benefits of being equally yoked with suppliers that are most capable of delivering highest value.

The best advise to suppliers is to appreciate that digital signage is a business tool that must serve the interests of multiple stakeholders, each of which must have comfort in the benefits that will be realized against a total cost of acquisition and operations. It is on this basis that the industry continues to grow, and the best of suppliers are rising to the top.

Lyle Bunn is an independent analyst, advisor and educator related to digital place-based signage who has assisted hundreds of organizations, published over 350 articles, whitepapers and guidebooks and helped to train over 10,000 end user and supply professionals. Lyle@LyleBunn.com

Museums offer Good Customer Experience Lessons

August 1, 2016

Museum - worlds

“Our location is all about the experience, the learning and the inspiration” said David Humphries, Chief Information Officer of the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, TX in hosting a tour of the facility for delegates of the ICX Customer Experience Summit.

Since museums must deliver an experience worthy of it being a destination and re-visit, a museum offers insights to retailers and other customer-facing organizations that seek to earn a consumer visit.

“We intend to inspire minds through an encyclopedic space that tries to address a wide range of disciplines in nature and science” said Mike Spiewak, Perot Museum Senior Director of Exhibits.

Consumers are willing to pay for the privilege and pleasure of a museum visit, typically many times annually, while retailers are losing sleep on how to earn a consumer visit, through which visitor needs, wants and aspirations can be met.

Retailers can take note of how digital place-based media can add vitality, discovery, information exchange and improved visit experience.

Many of the Perot Museum exhibits either included or were centered around a digital media experience. These ranged from sensor-triggered musical notes as patrons go up or down stairs to a panoramic view of the planet Mars presented on synchronized LED flat panels. Common approaches included gestural interactivity, touch screens, video walls and information display. One of the most engaging exhibits launches Ping Pong balls based on brain wave activity detected through forehead and earlobe sensors.

The museum visit experience offers the following lessons and guiding principles on digitally-enabled customer engagement:

  • It has to work. Digital experiences that are not operational (one exhibit display was closed for upgrade at the Museum) easily disappoint and de-brand unless an adequate explanation is provided.
  • “Cause and Effect” defines one of the most powerful paradigms of patron digital engagement, and it can be the basis of the gestural, touch screen and other interactivity.
  • “Learning styles must be considered to achieve impactful engagement” notes Humphries, adding that “people can learn through text, photographs, video or animated images that are published or interactive”.
  • Macro motor movement such as running, walking, climbing, stepping and other movement of body, leg, arm, head, etc. are the most engaging. These physically immersive experiences can be augmented with digital media to support the cause and effect, or augment the experience with a scoring or visualization.

Patrons experiences can include building it, playing with it or operating it.

Some commercial examples of applying these principles are available.

  • The Royal Bank of Canada invites patrons to place the coins from their pocket or purse on a table, which when detected illustrates how saving the amount of the coins could result in savings growth over time.
  • McDonalds invites guests to build their burger or place and pay for their order through a touch screen kiosk. By “gamifying” the order process they are also able reduce order counter staff requirements.
  • Retailers sometimes pose multiple choice questions as a way to provide information about product features and benefits. A suitable winter coat is more easily sold when customers are asked the actual temperature based on the combination of thermometer reading, wind chill and humidity.
  • A patron photo can be placed into a magazine cover template or morphed into a movie character that can then be emailed to the patron to help amplify a brand.

Flat panels bring a new level of engagement wherever they contribute to a memorable visit experience. Where a museum or science center can charge an admission or annual membership fee based on their thoughtful application of digital place-based media, retailers and brands can be rewarded by customer purchases, visits and loyalty.

Lyle Bunn is an independent analyst, advisor and educator related to digital place-based signage who has assisted hundreds of organizations, published over 350 articles, whitepapers and guidebooks and helped to train over 10,000 end user and supply professionals. Lyle@LyleBunn.com

End Users and Suppliers Both Do Better When Equally Yoked

August 1, 2016

Yoked 2

Over an 18-month period, a large grocery chain had a standing time of 2PM on Thursday afternoon to hear from vendors about digital signage. A vendor calling to try to book a meeting was delighted to have a date offered by the secretary, who simply flipped forward to the next available Thursday at 2pm and added the vendor name.

Whoever was able to attend from the grocer’s impacted departments would participate in the meeting. Hundreds of vendors presented, with some presentations including partner suppliers that might be part of a final solution. Many would request, and be given a second date to focus on key elements.

Not very far into the information gathering process, the grocer came to believe they knew more about the medium than the vendors did. Whereas vendors were focused on the element of their particular expertise, the end user was seeing the big picture comprised of these individual elements and assessing what would be required for them to benefit most from digital signage.

“Everyone believes their part is the most important” I was told by someone from the grocer “, and very few had any idea of what it would take to truly do a cost/benefit or investment analysis, or create an overall project plan.

Despite this time consuming exercise, and the benefits that it could deliver, no investment was ever made. “Hearing about all the moving parts, system complexity and lacking the time or motivation to assess application possibilities and real ROI, we decided not to proceed,” said the grocer representative.

What are the lessons?

Digital signage needs to integrate into existing operations and do something better than existing approaches.

  • The property operator (in this case a retailer) is but one stakeholder in the decision process. In retail, merchants matter.
  • Technology follows intention. Presenting a solution when there is no appreciation for the problem or opportunity is a waste of time.
  • Business value motivates investment.

All these point to the “pearls before swine” maxim and the concept of “equal yoking.”

Many suppliers presented their solutions while meeting the end user eye-to-eye. They were eloquent in presenting the “how” of digital signage that they would bring. They described the trunk, legs, tail, tusks and other parts of the elephant with which they are familiar in great depth, while overlooking the importance of establishing why an elephant is important to the enterprise.

A stronger positioning for the supplier would have been to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the end user to determine how the future could be different.

Yoked 1

An “equal yoking” would result, as when beasts of burden are joined by a yoke placed around the neck of each to harness and direct their individual contributions.

Each of the end user and the supplier have a role to play. As each oxen or pulling horse in the yoke is entitled to expect the contribution of the other, lest they go in circles, so it is with end user and supply organizations.

Clarifying, refining and even validating the description of benefits that are to be derived is a mutually beneficial effort. The end user gets investment validation while the supplier is provided the opportunity to describe how their solution will maximize the benefit.

A wise procurement executive said it simply as we were about to go into interviews of a short list of possible turnkey solution providers. He said “I just want to learn one thing… are they here for our benefit, or their own. We have done our homework and know what we require”.

The end user can become the swine toward which the best of suppliers will not cast their pearls and those who bear little burden for describing their intentions will loose the benefits of being equally yoked with suppliers that are most capable of delivering highest value.

Lyle Bunn is North America’s longest-serving independent digital signage analyst, advisor and educator. He has served hundreds of end users and helped to train thousands of marketing, media and technology professionals. Lyle@LyleBunn.com

Digital Signage Addresses Customer Experience Problems

August 1, 2016

Cust Loyalty wordal

Customer experience (CX) drives revenues in retail, food services and consumer service locations. The benefits of branding, merchandising and improvement to the ambiance, vitality and staff communications that are provided simultaneously at locations by digital signage serves CX goals.

As North American retailers invest over $125 billion in technologies annually to manage operations, cut costs and improve customer experience, digital signage is one of the high growth elements of this investment.

In a Temkin Group survey, 55% of brands indicated their intentions to improve CX because satisfied customers purchase more, forgive the brand for breakdowns more readily, have greater trust for the brand and are more willing to recommend the brand.

Gartner, Inc., the world’s leading information technology research provider noted that 47% of the 4,000 CX Executives worldwide currently use digital and e-commerce strategies to support goal achievement. Digital media is one of the 50 CX projects that billion dollar companies are currently focused on noted said Ed Thompson, Garner VP and Distinguished Analyst. He added that $100 million firms typically have a dozen major CX projects moving forward at any one time.

According to Gartner research, 31% of projects are funded by Marketing and 15% by the Customer Experience function.

CX is heavily focused on metrics and analysis since in creating strategies, knowledge is powerful.

If “power” is defined as the abilty to effect outcomes, the power of consumers to impact the success of brands and retailers has never been greater. It is on his basis that Voice of the Customer programs within the marketing function have such importance.

But beyond their ABC of attention, browse and comments, consumers provide feedback by their actions, interactions and transactions. The “big data” that describes the brand engagement experience holds the key to brand success. It is the 1-2 punch of analysis followed by actions that makes data useful to validating investment.

“Not all people matter equally to the business” says Paul Pacheco, SVP, Customer Strategies, TNS Canada in describing that an occasional patron is less important to the business than a loyal, high volume patron. TNS recommends that brands focus on the optimizing and improving the touch points for the people that matter most.

Lyle@LyleBunn.com.. See other Customer experiences resources here.

Municipal Use of Digital Signage – Part 2

August 1, 2016

Municipal

Municipalities serve the residents and businesses that make up their community.

Safety, recreation, public transit, roads, social services, parking, water service and drainage are top of the list of ratepayer services. Many of these apply digital signage within departmental budgets to provide public information, while others such as transit, recreation, art and parking infrastructure use the medium to generate non-tax revenues.

Municipalities also want to attract visitors, new residents and businesses that contribute to growth and broaden the tax base.

Digital street infrastructure is high on the priority list of municipalities, as several capabilities have converged. Wi-Fi, mobile charging, proximity information caching, wayfinding, alerts, transit information, message and advertisement display and links to mobile phones can draw on the same infrastructure to bring streets, pedestrian areas, as well as shopping, entertainment and tourist districts to life.

New York City has been leading the way but many other cities are moving forward with similar plans. “District Detroit” is a 50-block area being rejuvenated as an area of shopping, sports, live entertainment, hospitality, business and living. The CityScapes of Dallas, anchored by the massive Nebraska Furniture Mart retail outlet is a similar undertaking.

The vitality and service to patrons of annual events such as South by Southwest SXSW in Austin mean that such events can bring significant financial benefit to the community. SXSW contributes over $300 million in economic benefit annually to Austin. Most municipalities have festivals or special events that attract visitors and increase their profile.

Special events that host large numbers of visitors and local participants can offer the focus and funding to enable media infrastructure. The potential for advertisers to align their branding with the spirit of the event is attractive to their branding. Economies are built into message delivery to a large, highly concentrated audience that self-identifies as sharing an interest. Advertising can be highly contextual and very effective at establishing brand awareness and alignment.

Trade show and exhibit producers learned the lesson of digital display revenues years ago. Temporary or trailer-mounted, mobile, large-format LED signs provide a way to assess the impact of digital media during an event while at the same time kick-starting a funding campaign for permanent multi-purpose signs.

Local business operators all have marketing budgets and seek to get the most for their communications investment. The modern appeal of digital signage operating in high traffic areas and engaging consumers with addition service elements allows the advertiser to gain exceptionally good exposure.

The action plan for municipalities related to digital signage should be:

  • Have individual departments assess how their service quality, community outreach and goals could be better met by using digital signage.
  • Determine locations of high viewership as candidates for installing ad-based digital out-of-home networks.
  • Use digital media to bring modern-ness and vitality to areas where more pedestrian traffic and commerce is desired.
  • Use festivals and special events to fund digital media infrastructure.

The knowledge gained by one department can be offered to others and the buying power of a broader application can benefit each budget area. The key is to start.

 

Lyle Bunn is an independent analyst, advisor and educator providing digital place based media subject matter expertise. He has assisted hundreds of organizations, published more than 350 articles, whitepapers and guides and helped to train more than 10,000 professionals. www.LyleBunn.com

 

Building the Right Digital Signage Team

August 1, 2016

Team heirarchy

The collective strengths of the people involved in a digital signage initiative generally define the project success.

Team leadership usually lies with the department that will gain the greatest benefit toward achieving their goals. Departments bring their expertise and things get done, hopefully.

Digital signage is one of those multi-department projects with touch points across the organization because of its impact on the organization.

Operationally, digital signage contributes to the productivity of places, processes and people. At the tactical level it impacts the success of the engagement of customers, patrons and staff. At the strategic level it impacts brand positioning and equity, along with the creation and leverage of assets.

When digital signage becomes the focus of discussion, each department has its own interests.

  • Everybody wants improved customer experience based on what they do as a contribution to it.
  • Executives want better corporate performance.
  • Procurement wants to minimize capital outlay, and if they are team players, the total cost of ownership.
  • Facilities seek digital signage that will deliver improved performance of the location and a better visitor experience
  • Marketing wants better branding and merchandising at lower ongoing communications cost.
  • Human Resources want to inspire productivity and minimize staff related costs such as absence, hiring and accident claims.
  • Information Technologies want a solution that works and is RAS-able (Reliable, Available, Scalable)
  • The Chief Information Officer wants to leverage data assets to improve productivity and enable new ways of operating.
  • The security department want loss prevention.

When the medium is applied, everyone has something at stake. The task of aligning those interests, marshalling resources, consensus building and “herding the cats” often calls on subject matter expertise as well as project management skills.

The project sponsor should be the highest-placed executive of the department that realizes that they have the most to gain toward digital signage helping to achieve their goals.

The team leader should be a direct report to that executive with the proven ability to get things done. They will understand the organization and its priorities, and marshal the resources to move the project forward.

Team Heirrchy 2       Team Heirarchy 3

The core elements of the team should include the key stakeholders such as marketing, information technologies, procurement, facilities and human resources. Specific groups such as security, merchant/supplier liaison, public affairs or investor relations can be engaged as suitable.

The digital signage team will oversee the design, funding, sourcing, deployment of the project, and it is common that responsibilities for ongoing elements such as network operations and content administration are met by the suitable business division. Optimization of the investment typically resides with the primary beneficiary.

Since “content” will be a primary consideration if the benefits of digital signage are to be fully realized, business units such as marketing, human resources, patron/facility personnel, line of business managers and agencies responsible for “content” on other marketing/communications devises such as TV, cable, billboard, print, internet and mobile should be involved.

Given the ability of digital signage to drive “audience of one” engagement, those involved with internet, mobile and kiosk strategy and operations will be particularly interested in the digital signage initiative from the standpoint of “transmedia” leverage.

Suppliers can be very useful in providing technology and service element expertise. External resources, such as a consultant or suppliers, able to provide objective guidance can also help to assure involvement by applicable business units while minimizing staff time and resources while minimizing time, risk and investment on the project.

“Templates” can be a strong foundation for project advancement. Designs, plans and budgets from similar projects can minimize the effort and time requirement while helping to assure that elements are adequately addressed and risk is minimized.

Digital signage has broad organizational impact, and as such there are many with interest in how the project will go forward and the medium used. The key role is that of project leader, who requires the support of management and input from other stakeholders.

Lyle Bunn is an independent analyst, advisor and educator related to digital place-based signage. He has assisted hundreds of organizations, published over 350 articles, whitepapers and guidebooks and helped to train over 10,000 end user and supply professionals. Lyle@LyleBunn.com

Trolls and tolls in Digital Signage patents.

August 1, 2016

Caveat Emptor

Patent infringement is common in digital signage as suppliers struggle for critical mass and unaware end users seek pricing advantages. Patent compliance is typically not part of sourcing criteria, though it does rear its head as installations become larger.

A patent troll (defines Wikipedia), “in pejorative usage, a patent troll is a person or company that attempts to enforce patent rights against accused infringers far beyond the patent’s actual value or contribution to the prior art. Patent trolls often do not manufacture products or supply services based upon the patents in question”.

Interestingly, the top result from a Goggle search under the words “patent troll” is an ad for patent troll insurance “for less than $100 per month”. That would be $100 per month for each media player software license by the way.

Trolls do not want to sell anything involving the patent they are awarded. They simply want to monetize their investment in filing with usage licensing fees. Trolls charge tolls. Like the children’s storybook character of a troll beneath the bridge, the troll bullies or extorts a fee for the use of a bridge. As digital signage is a bridge to greater communications productivity, the patent troll wants its toll. Travellers pay up or take the long or treacherous alternative route.

There are about 50 key patents in digital signage application and thousands of others related to the technology elements (i.e. flat panels, media players, etc.).

Worst case scenarios include receiving a cease-and-desist letter, time/expense related to assessment and defense, unexpected fees, or inability to apply the technology as invested and planned.

In short, an end user must assure that patent compliance is not an exposure during vendor sourcing.

Vendors must take actions, as many primary providers, in particular of Content Management Software, already have to negate risks or future fees that they or their end user clients might endure.

Patent trolls are acknowledged as a challenge to commerce where intellectual property rights are a reward for research investment leading to unique insights and practices. Where trolls and tolls are synonymous in the intellectual property rights regime, sustainable providers are those defined as having the legal right to conduct commerce.

In July 2016, Stratacache announced its acquisition of the outdoor digital board product line and related intellectual property from Civiq Smartscapes. This positions Stratacache to serve the drive-thru requirements of quick-serve restaurants, coffee and pastry locations, banks and others in outdoor commerce with patented digital promotion, menu, transactional order confirmation displays.

The digital signage technology ecosystem of hardware and software has proven its value in improving the productivity of places, processes and people. A foundation of end users, and providers enjoying this benefit on a sustainable basis is that patents for the application of these technologies is owned or licensed. Caveat emptor – “Let the buyer beware,” and providers as well.

Other reading on patents as follows:

A bipartisan consensus to address the issue is building in Washington By Steven Titch, Computerworld. Feb. 10, 2015. White Castle food services and digital menu boards referenced.

BroadSign challenges digital signage “patent trolls”, a guest post by Burr Smith on July 26, 2016

Trolls May Have Seven More Digital Signage Patents Coming (or More), post by Dave Haynes on October 25, 2013 reflecting conference commentary.
http://www.sixteen-nine.net/2013/10/25/advice-digital-signage-patent-trolls/

On-vehicle digital signage is on the move. Sept 2014 by Lyle Bunn. It bears noting that the Madonia Family Limited Partnership, which was awarded patent for Integrated Flat Panel Display for Mounting to Exterior Surfaces of Motor Vehicles. US Patent Number 7,478,492 B2 Issued January 20, 2009 is seeking to license this patent to a supply or impacted end user.

Lyle Bunn is a highly regarded analyst, advisor and educator in North America’s Digital Signage industry. Lyle@LyleBunn.com

Municipal Use of Digital Signage – Part 1

July 5, 2016

Municipalities serve the residents and businesses that make up their community.

Safety, recreation, public transit, roads, social services, parking, water service and drainage are top of the list of ratepayer services. Many of these apply digital signage within departmental budgets to provide public information, while others such as transit, recreation, art and parking infrastructure use the medium to generate non-tax revenues.

Municipalities also want to attract visitors, new residents and businesses that contribute to growth and broaden the tax base.

Digital street infrastructure is high on the priority list of municipalities, as several capabilities have converged. Wi-Fi, mobile charging, proximity information caching, wayfinding, alerts, transit information, message and advertisement display and links to mobile phones can draw on the same infrastructure to bring streets, pedestrian areas, as well as shopping, entertainment and tourist districts to life.

New York City has been leading the way but many other cities are moving forward with similar plans. “District Detroit” is a 50-block area being rejuvenated as an area of shopping, sports, live entertainment, hospitality, business and living. The CityScapes of Dallas, anchored by the massive Nebraska Furniture Mart retail outlet is a similar undertaking.

The vitality and service to patrons of annual events such as South by Southwest SXSW in Austin mean that such events can bring significant financial benefit to the community. SXSW contributes over $300 million in economic benefit annually to Austin. Most municipalities have festivals or special events that attract visitors and increase their profile.

Special events that host large numbers of visitors and local participants can offer the focus and funding to enable media infrastructure. The potential for advertisers to align their branding with the spirit of the event is attractive to their branding. Economies are built into message delivery to a large, highly concentrated audience that self-identifies as sharing an interest. Advertising can be highly contextual and very effective at establishing brand awareness and alignment.

Trade show and exhibit producers learned the lesson of digital display revenues years ago. Temporary or trailer-mounted, mobile, large-format LED signs provide a way to assess the impact of digital media during an event while at the same time kick-starting a funding campaign for permanent multi-purpose signs.

Local business operators all have marketing budgets and seek to get the most for their communications investment. The modern appeal of digital signage operating in high traffic areas and engaging consumers with addition service elements allows the advertiser to gain exceptionally good exposure.

The action plan for municipalities related to digital signage should be:

  • Have individual departments assess how their service quality, community outreach and goals could be better met by using digital signage.
  • Determine locations of high viewership as candidates for installing ad-based digital out-of-home networks.
  • Use digital media to bring modern-ness and vitality to areas where more pedestrian traffic and commerce is desired.
  • Use festivals and special events to fund digital media infrastructure.

The knowledge gained by one department can be offered to others and the buying power of a broader application can benefit each budget area. The key is to start.

Lyle Bunn is an independent analyst, advisor and educator providing digital place based media subject matter expertise. He has assisted hundreds of organizations, published more than 350 articles, whitepapers and guides and helped to train more than 10,000 professionals. www.LyleBunn.com