The Internet of Things has gained a great deal of momentum in the past several years, with analysts across industries – both enterprise and consumer – generating buzz about the benefits of a deeply interconnected ecosystem of devices and software. According to CSG International, forecasts predict 50 billion devices will be connected by 2017, ranging from clothing to household utensils and even sensors connected to livestock. In other words, the IoT is taking over all aspects of the business world, and at this rate, there's no stopping its powerful influence. 

Of course, each industry will be able to experience unique advantages as the IoT becomes more widespread and stable with time. Digital signage project leaders are set to enjoy some distinctive benefits, as the nature of their field involves a mix of creative and data-driven elements. Here's a look at a few aspects of digital signage that will surely be influenced by the rise of the IoT, as well as some recommendations on how to take full advantage of what this trend has to offer. 

"In-store IoT use cases are abundant."

Integration with in-store sensors
Perhaps the most widely known function of the IoT is its ability to collect data from a diverse array of sensors, then process the information in a way that creates a useful end product for the user base. In the context of digital signage, the applications for in-store dynamics are abundant, especially as brick-and-mortar strategists implement sensors around their franchises. Shoppers' walking patterns will eventually trigger unique content on displays to target audiences far more accurately. 

As the IoT becomes even more deeply integrated, retailers may place sensors on items themselves, processing recommendations on an immediate basis and allowing signage to display recommendations based on the products in a shopper's basket. While these IoT features may be far off, companies that engage in the process of experimentation will surely make groundbreaking advancements before the competition. 

Mobile connectivity for shoppers
In-store walking patterns and real-time item suggestions might not become a reality for some time, but there are a handful of IoT techniques that signage leaders can coordinate at present to differentiate themselves in crowded retail markets. For example, companies can set up communications with shoppers' mobile devices to create more individualized experiences in-store, drawing data from past events such as purchases and browsing history. 

There's been a lot of talk about the IoT. Are you ready to put the technology into action?There's been a lot of talk about the IoT. Are you ready to put the technology into action?

Dynamic and active data updates
While a focus on the shopper experience is indeed important, classic signage strategies can also be improved by increased connectivity and a willingness to adopt IoT concepts. For instance, information from news outlets and social media platforms can be integrated into the signage schedule, allowing brands to deliver more dynamic and relevant information to the user base. This provides a personalized experience without delving into individual databases or accounts. 

"RSR's survey results show optimism surrounding many operational and sales & marketing benefits," stated 11Giraffes CTO Jim Marascio in a recent piece on LinkedIn. " Of particular note are that nearly 50 percent of retailers are expecting significant improvement in inventory management and brand loyalty – two key variables in reducing cost and increasing top-line revenue."

As CSG International mentioned in an infographic, IoT delivers some serious profitability if incorporated correctly, with 94 percent of businesses already seeing capital gains from the strategies. Now, it's up to digital signage innovators to put the IoT to the test and incorporate a range of new techniques that utilize advanced connectivity and real-time data feeds.