Interview: Florian Rotberg, Digital Signage Summit chair

Interview: Florian Rotberg, Digital Signage Summit chair

The days of digital signage being a silo industry are over and a more holistic view of how it connects to backend systems, IoT devices, IT infrastructure and more is essential if its true value is to be realised. That’s why the Digital Signage Summit at ISE 2024 will explore how digital signage connects with its surroundings to create engaging, interactive and sustainable experiences.

Florian Rotberg“Today, everything is connected; it's cloud based, you have dozens, sometimes hundreds, of back-end systems, of IoT technology, all the way to AI, which connect to it, so remaining in the silo doesn’t work anymore,” says Florian Rotberg, chair of Digital Signage Summit and Managing Director of invidis consulting. “We really have to free digital signage from the silo, and connect it as much as possible, because then it offers most value.”

Sessions will explore four key trends – AI, green signage, platforms and IT security – welcoming speakers from companies including Google, BroadSign, Samsung and more.

“AI is changing our world, changing technology – and also signage – in many ways. It helps us to have much more computing power, to create content much, much more efficiently, in a way you couldn't do with a human,” he continues.

“Creating content is one of the most expensive things in digital signage. Once you've installed the hardware then you have to feed the beast with content, and it's very expensive.”

He cites the example of a major automotive brand that created content for its most important dealers around the world, showing a new car in front of the relevant country’s skyline. “They recreated the Hong Kong skyline, or New York skyline to give them a local feel, and it took ages and was very expensive. Now, they can do it with a keystroke for a fraction of the price because you just tell GenAI to create all these backdrops.”

The conversation around sustainability will continue at this year’s summit, especially as energy prices remain high across Europe.

“Electricity has become so expensive that operating digital signage, or pro-AV networks in general, more efficiently is absolutely essential. We see more and more tenders, especially in Northern Europe – so Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland – where the focus on each single tender is to supply the most sustainable solution. The solution can even be more expensive, so long as it's more sustainable,” he adds.

The shift from hardware to software is also on the agenda, including the move towards a screen as a service model.

'The vast majority of pro-AV vendors are struggling to keep pace with cyber security standards'

“The industry is moving away from hardware to software,” explains Rotberg. “In the past you bought the screen and the software, but nowadays everything is moving towards a solution where hardware is commodity and the only differentiation is because of the software. You will see that at ISE 2024. Samsung, LG and other hardware vendors will be offering software solutions, adding more value to their products and eventually moving to a screen as a service. That's the vision of everyone so that you don't have the capex, you buy a few things and then operate it by yourself or with a partner, but really moving towards a screen as a service world. And that’s disrupting the way signage has been designed, created, built and operated, so it's really a game changer.”

As digital signage is now increasingly part of a larger system, security has become a much bigger consideration, and can even be a deal breaker for installations, as the summit will explore.

“As long as digital signage was in a silo, IT security didn’t play a role, but nowadays as it's totally connected to so many other systems, it's really important that it’s fully certified and very, very secure,” Rotberg adds. “We’re already seeing some even established players losing clients because they weren't certified for the latest IT security standards.”

Despite this, some pro-AV manufacturers are struggling to keep pace with cyber security standards, creating a competitive edge for those that are leading the way.

“The vast majority of pro-AV vendors are struggling,” he reveals. “Only a few that have a more IT DNA are well aware of it and, for them, it's a big advantage. It's very challenging, but that's the reason why ISE is putting a lot of effort into IT security this year, including new co-operations with publishing houses and with IT security experts to get them to the show to mix and mingle with the industry and to educate the industry.”

At DSS itself, panel discussions, fireside chats and the ever-popular invidis Annual Outlook presentation means there’s plenty for delegates to immerse themselves in during the summit.

“DSS is really about getting the best value for delegates attending the conference,” he concludes. “ISE is overwhelming, and it will be the largest ISE ever, so it's really helping delegates to understand what the latest trends are and giving them guidance. After attending our conference they’ll have a good understanding of the latest trends, where to visit, what is just marketing speech and what is underlying technology that is really relevant.”

Digital Signage Summit runs from 10:30-14:30 on Wednesday 31 January in CC5.1. Book your place.

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