The Internet of Things is a tech concept that has seen more hype than any other development in recent memory, and for good reason. Corporate entities, public sector organizations and numerous consumer demographics have all tracked the IoT for years now, awaiting the day that this massive network of interconnected devices and operating systems becomes a reality. While there is still a ways to go before the IoT solidifies into an all-encompassing ecosystem, advancements in digital signage are proving that the technology is further along in its life cycle than one may think.

Retail signage blazing the trail
While determining the scope of the IoT market is an ongoing challenge, identifying the growth of individual segments is a bit more straightforward, especially when focusing on specialized technologies such as digital signage. From this angle, it has become clear that signage solutions – specifically those leveraged in retail environments – are outpacing all other IoT components in terms of popularity and overall market expansion. It would appear that the IoT is moving beyond the hype and entering a phase of impressive adoption that will likely continue on an upward trend. 

"The use of digital signs in retail outlets is expected to grow from $6 billion in 2013 to $27.5 billion in 2018, a 35.7 percent, five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR), as retailers continue to digitize the consumer experience, according to International Data Corp.'s second annual forecast on the IoT," wrote Fierce Retail IT contributor Dan Alaimo. 

Signage networks are more complex and extensive than ever, and the Internet of Things is a huge contributing factor.Signage networks are more complex and extensive than ever, and the Internet of Things is a huge contributing factor.

Rapid growth in this arena is a result of the undeniable advantages that signage brings to retail strategy – benefits that are only enhanced by the in-depth coordination offered by IoT-grade software and networks. Next-gen enterprise digital signage software yields results, according to Digital Signage Today, which revealed that more than two-thirds (68 percent) of American consumers have made a purchase as a direct result of a compelling visual campaign in a retail setting. Furthermore, around three-fourths of shoppers have spread the word about a brand thanks to its signage. 

Preparing for cutting-edge tech   
Although the market for retail signage is making major strides, the spirit of the IoT is one that requires strategists to keep one eye on the horizon of innovation as new tech advancements materialize with regularity. Digital Signage Today pointed to a number of fascinating innovations that will soon take center stage in this arena, suggesting that the technology will play a major role in what many analysts are calling the "Internet of Everything". Here's a closer look at some of the developments involved in the forthcoming surge of signage adoption:

  • Beacon technology that uses Bluetooth connections to target nearby consumers with messages that reflect their preferences, past purchases and shopping behaviors
  • Heat-mapping sensors that scan the environment for high-traffic areas, allowing strategists to place digital signage hardware in optimal locations around the store
  • Touchscreen monitors that offer engaging self-service experiences in-store while informing other brand marketing channels with valuable personalized data
  • Mirroring systems that let shoppers "try" different clothing styles and makeup, making recommendations based on their physiques and complexions 

These signage elements certainly need some time before they make their way into the enterprise arsenal, but strategists in the retail sector must remember that a proactive adoption plan is necessary to gain a competitive edge in this fast-paced environment of one-upmanship. Strong digital signage software for retail will be a necessity to harness the momentum of these trends and ensure that the industry at large is prepared to tap into the value of the IoT.