A super-cool and exciting future is in the cards for our industry – just take a look at these awesome digital signage trends we’ve got for you.

And I know, you’re probably rolling your eyes and shaking your head at all the latest hype. Implementing every new feature and capability just isn’t feasible or even necessary. But these three trends? They’re certainly worth it. And the hassle of extra cost and deployment pales in comparison to the benefits they’ll bring to your digital signage strategy.

IoT sounds like an acronym for something that’ll die a fast but fashionable death. Remember 3D TV? Yeah, IoT (or the Internet of Things) is nothing like the 3D TV fiasco. It’s feasible, practical and promises impressive profitability.

But what is it exactly? In its simplest form, the concept behind IoT lies in how everyday objects can be connected and communicate with each other over the internet. Sure, laptops and smartphones already do this. But what about objects we use every day that we don’t consider high-tech or even online? Appliances, cars, merchandise sitting on your store shelves, employee ID badges can all start communicating with each other.

How? Put to use the software or sensors already embedded in them. Get them online and communicating. Exchange data. And you’ve got the whole picture about what’s going on. Which means you as a business can take that big picture and make decisions, offer useful information or push relevant products or services. Best part of all this? A human or computer middle-man isn’t required.

IoT and Digital Signage: not as complicated as it sounds

I hear y’all saying you’ve got a simple clothing store/bar/restaurant/insert retail outlet of your choice. And there’s no way you can get all connected, IoT-style. It’s too complicated in terms of tech.

Except it’s really not. And it’s already here. You’re just not thinking about it in that way. You know how you’ve got barcodes on your products and customers can simply scan them for pricing info or more? In fact, IoT isn’t much more complicated than that. Just upgrade your current system to a combo RFID (radio-frequency identification) system and its smarter, more data-versatile tags. It’ll give you the tech you need to get all that extra data linked to your digital signage solution.

IoT for Digital Signage: Something you can take to the bank

So you upgraded and got the tech you need. Now what? What will IoT even look like in the real world of digital signage? Well, think of it this way. Your customer picks up a shirt, scans it, and the RFID smart label activates the nearest digital signage screen. And like magic, you give your customer extra info they’ll appreciate – and your bottom line will do cartwheels for. Show them that great matching skirt, a perfect pair of shoes or a discount coupon. Upselling and cross-selling has never been easier. Throw in all the extra info about shopping habits, likes and comments the IoT gathers from social media? And you can certainly offer a personalized shopping experience on your digital signage screens.

Sounds great, you say. Except your digital signage solution works in a more corporate setting? Not a problem. IoT works wonders there too. As soon as an employee scans her badge or key to clock in or gain access, boom. A digital signage screen offers useful personalized information like departmental announcements, meetings, overtime hours and more. Or if an employee scans their keycard to get and deliver supplies, a small screen alerts him of any shortages, what to restock or even tells him to call his supervisor. Digital signage trends like IoT increase efficiency, boost sales and buffer your bank account. All because of the personalized experience you’ll offer.

Which brings me to the next tech you can’t skip in terms of digital signage trends.

Big Data & Facial Recognition: Digital signage for personalization

You’ve all got excellent content, right? It’s valuable and exclusive; it’s fresh and interesting. But haven’t you ever wondered how it can personally impact all viewers equally? Truth is, it can’t. You do your best. You try to figure out your target customers. And you create content that addresses their needs. But with so many thousands of people marching past your digital signage screens, you really can’t please everyone. So what do you do?

Big data helps you customize digital signage content

Out of all the digital signage trends out there, facial recognition powered by big data wins the big bucks. And it’s especially true when we’re talking personalized content. Why? Because interests differ. And sure, you can’t crawl out of your digital signage screen and into everyone’s brain to figure them out. But you can use facial recognition to determine mood, age and gender. And before that even occurs, you can see if they’re even looking at your screen.

Digital trends might fizzle, but this one’s here to stay because of the personalization and quantifiable data it provides you. You can install proximity sensors that pick up whether or not a potential client is close enough to be affected by your digital signage content. Couple those sensors with cameras that boast facial recognition capabilities, and you’ve hit the jackpot. How? Because behind the cameras and sensors, big data does all the heavy lifting. It takes the images the cameras and sensors provides, and determines age, gender and emotional state like whether a customer is happy or frustrated. All these specific parameters big data provides lets you show content tailored to that particular customer’s interests.

And how does it help your digital signage content strategy?

Because once you know demographics and mood, you really narrow down that specific customer’s likely product preferences. You know your products, services or merchandise. You know which ones appeal to which customers. Create content for that specific shopper. And then sit back and let facial recognition and big data figure out which playlist, video or show to display based on who walks by. A middle-aged professional would definitely perk up with a playlist featuring designer suits. A buy-one-get-one-free sale on cheap tees is perfect for struggling college students. If you customize digital signage content to the specific shopper passing by your screen, you’re much more likely to spark a sale.

And that’s not all. Big data and facial recognition is one of the digital signage trends that also helps you figure out which ad campaign worked and which didn’t. Which means you can change strategy for your next big sale. How? Big data and facial recognition process what type of customers shop at what time. If it’s mostly kids who swarm your shop right after school, you’ll know to display ad campaigns for fast food as opposed to gourmet desserts. And once you’ve got that customized playlist up and running, you can check to see if there’s a spike in sales. Compare your POS sales for that specific time period with the info big data gathered about demographics and see if your customized campaign worked. Of all the digital signage trends garnering buzz, this particular one could very well take digital signage for retail to the next level.

Our list of can’t-live-without digital signage trends so far took us from the ultra-connectedness of IoT to creating a personalized, unforgettable customer experience with facial recognition. What’s more natural than extending that experience to customer-screen interaction?

If a digital signage screen’s close enough to touch, then the customer should be given every reason to interact with it. After all, we’re primed for this with all the swiping and tapping we do on our smartphones. Why shouldn’t digital signage reap the same benefits?

Essentially, it’s an extension of all the data gathering and processing facial recognition and big data offers. You used two of our three highlighted digital signage trends to create a personalized shopping experience on your screens. All that’s left now is for you to invite the shopper to reach out and touch your screen and become part of the story. Get them to ask for more information about a product or service. Ask them to sign up for your loyalty program. Give them a discount code they can apply right then and there as a thank you.

Interactivity invites customers to take the shopping experience in the direction they choose. Let them get lost in sea of your products and services. As they explore what you offer, you’ll also use digital signage’s big data capabilities to see what sparks their interest, spurs a sale and solicits newsletter sign-ups. And you’ll be more empowered than ever to create customized digital signage campaigns that boost profits.

Absolutely not. You might not have the budget or time to deploy all these trends. However, just knowing where the future of the industry leads means you’ll be better prepared to plan ahead. In any event, digital signage trends are there to help you and your business. Whenever the time is right for you. After all, digital signage trends have one purpose: to make your business more successful. So make them fit your needs.