IoT based Digital Signages will gain significance during COVID-19, and beyond
by Mr. Anvesh Mantena
Note: The author of this article has over a decades experience as a digital technology consultant across global markets like US, Japan, Germany & India.
With the world heading towards a new normal, next generation IoT based digital signages are set to play a significant role to not just help business navigate the current operational challenges, but increase their preparedness to mitigate the impact of such challenges in the future.
The words corona, social distancing and lockdown were virtually unheard of, a few months ago. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of people and disrupted thousands of business worldwide. The reality of the outbreak is starting to settle in and business leaders are strategising to navigate a broad range of interrelated issues. One of the key business challenge that is industry agnostic, is ensuring health and safety of employee and customers.
The fact that a vaccine is still months away, amplifies the relevance of digital signage which has taken up the role of providing the most important commodity of all: information. If the importance of digital signages was ever a question before Covid-19, there is no doubt of its value now.
Although it seems obvious, the need of the hour is to continuously remind your customers & employees about importance and safety related information to further drive the point. The cloud based solutions give complete control to the head office to drive emergency communication in real time to multiple or a specific remote location. Digital signages are all set to play a prominent role to keep people informed and fight against their fears at places where it matters the most.
While enabling communication remains to be the key, the next generation digital signage solution which are IoT based and are driven by AI, will works as a platform to build industry specific application that would not just help businesses navigate through the current pandemic but will increase their preparedness to mitigate the impact for the next one if any. The below are a few use cases which we would see gaining traction.
- Remote training: While training is a key for businesses to grow the current pandemic has been driving a wide range of reskilling initiative by organizations, virtual meeting tool like Zoom are helping white collar employees, the same can’t be said with blue collar employee. This is where digital signage are set to play a significant role. The real-time capabilities of the modern signage solution will help business reuse the screens placed at strategic point across factory floor to train workers.
- Queue Management: Queues for entry into retail stores, is quite common these days. This will further formalise into appointment based shopping. IoT based digital screens installed at entrances of stores apart from its basic functionality to act as a medium of communication will also provide queue management services to regulate the inflow of customers thereby avoiding the pile-up of people in endless lines and increase the confidence of the customer to come and shop with them.
- Remote monitoring: With high levels of compliance standards being set by governments, organisations will need tools to monitor their implementation at manufacturing plants or retail stores. The next generation digital signages based on IoT platforms, integrated with sensor technology will eliminate blind spots, giving management a holistic view of operations that can be monitored remotely. In-built algorithms will automatically alert staff by bringing up relevant messages on screens at times when standards are not being met by employees.
- Local Community marketing: ‘When customer don’t come to you, you go to your customers’, is the mantra that businesses will follow. The advertisement spent for organisations will be very limited and targeted with companies being very particular on where every rupee is spent. Marketing in public places through OOH might lose its sheen with more marketers looking to reach the customer as-close-to-home. This will open up avenues for marketing agencies to invest in digital screen controlled by an efficient cloud solution in various large housing societies, which will take brands closer to the customers. Digtial signage solution will provide real time analytics on the advertisements making the business investments measureable.
- Contactless attendance & screening: Finger print recognition has been a standard over the last decade for daily attendance registration at various offices/plants across the world. This pandemic has brought about an urgent need for a contactless technology. Face recognition which is already making its presence in the mobile world will be the new normal. The camera scan along with a few thermal scanning sensors will see integration with IoT based digital signages for automatic attendance capture and screening at entrances with capabilities to automatically trigger warning messages.
- Store Information & availability display: In the short term, window shopping at malls will reduce due to the fear of infection, and customers will shop for a particular pre-decided product. The time they want to spend in stores will be minimal. In these scenarios, real time information on the availability of product and their exact location will be of great help for people to directly walk to the product pick it up and check out. Digtial signage’s will play a significant role by integrating the store inventory & layout diplaying real time product information and their availability.
With the changing global context, Digital Signages are maturing from just being a marketing tool to an IoT based enabler by integrating real time applications, resulting in being an efficient and effective communication of the one of the most important asset – information!