By now, it’s likely that most solution providers have heard about the Internet of Things (IoT). If not, think of the IoT as the marriage of the Internet and personal devices like phones, tablets and digital devices like displays, because it’s a union that has forever changed how businesses run and has important implications as to how pro AV is evolving as a growth industry.
Cisco predicts there will be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, compared with 15 billion today. For solution providers in the pro AV industry, that kind of growth brings with it the potential to offer powerful customer-facing tools for your clients to leverage that offer real-time customization and contribute to maximizing profits.
Understanding the role that the IoT plays with respect to the pro AV industry will be vital for solution providers as you grow your business, because the expectation of communication between devices and objects is no longer a dream but a reality.
Here are three key considerations to know about the interaction between pro AV and the IoT.
1. The Cloud
Global digital signage revenue has been expected to increase by 10 percent in 2015 and 7 percent in 2016. Much of that revenue is going to come from hardware and software sales. That means that there will likely be an even greater demand for quality content to run on those devices.
Enter the cloud. It's essentially a way to have access to on-demand, Internet-based computing where information and computing resources are stored at third-party data centers. Translation?
It means that most, if not all, of the hardware and infrastructure needed in order to run networked digital signage are moved off site, thereby eliminating the need for a large IT department.
As content libraries grow, they can take up huge amounts of space on enterprise servers. By moving content off site, end users gain access to and manage applications by logging on to a computer virtually anywhere on the globe. Besides saving on electricity, floor space and personnel, cloud-based digital signage platforms allow for real-time, dynamic message changes that can be delivered to remote locations 24/7.
The velocity at which the “bring your own device” (BYOD) phenomenon continues to drive forward provides sobering evidence that integrating these devices into today’s pro AV digital solutions will be nothing short of mandatory.
Consider that the global market for BYOD will increase from $67.21 billion in 2011 to about $181.39 billion by the year 2017, with 67 percent of workers already using their personal devices in the workplace.
BYOD in the workplace is already providing workers the ability to collaborate across multiple devices, wirelessly within a single corporate campus or across the country if need be. The ability to control pro AV systems from a personal device, such as a tablet, has flipped the equation of system management.
Tablets and smartphones are affecting pro AV systems operation and design. Audio especially has seen a profound effect, with most sound platforms, including mixing consoles and digital signal processors, incorporating some kind of remote controllability via apps loaded onto users’ devices.
3. Data-Driven Solutions
The IoT provides enormous opportunities to leverage big data into actionable pro AV solutions that clients can actually benefit from. Digital signage in particular can be used in order to leverage data coming from multiple sources in order to deliver customized consumer experiences.
A few examples of how this works are:
- Integrated cameras can deliver live images to consumers, in real time.
- Heat-mapping technology can detect high-traffic areas and alter what is being advertised or how it is being advertised.
- Beacon technology—a proximity-based communications solution—uses Bluetooth in order to let retailers provide targeted discounts and information to customers.
- Intuitive touch-screen navigation gives customers pertinent, personalized content. It enables inventory monitoring and can be used between associates or as a way for customers to locate products in a store.
- Customer demographics can be collected and used in order to provide relevant product recommendations.
Solution providers that understand how to leverage the relationship between pro AV and the IoT will be in a better position to offer clients turnkey solutions that will help grow your business and theirs.