What are the issues we should be focusing on?
Technology standards. Best practices for interacting with the viewer. Consumer privacy. Sheesh, even the number of non-profit industry organizations that represent us. All of these things have a serious impact on the operational efficiency of our technology and of our businesses. And it's consistently like pulling teeth trying to get anyone to notice or care. Throughout the young history of our industry, we've seen and squandered opportunities to make our industry better and play nicer with others outside of our little ecosystem. For example, ever wonder why your digital signage player can't simply turn on and off any display device, regardless of whether it's an LCD screen, projector, or LED billboard? That's because after contemplating some very sophisticated and useful tech standards for getting screens and players to talk to each other in a consistent way, the folks in POPAI's Digital Signage Standards group simply couldn't get vendors and manufacturers to adopt them. Consequently, we're left with a hodge-podge of techniques and practices. Likewise, have you ever run into a situation where a seemingly OK piece of content simply won't play on your system? Again, it's probably because either the content author, the player manufacturer, or both failed to certify against any of the existing standards (POPAI and OVAB -- I mean DPAA -- both have them).
Image credit: Valerie Everett on Flickr
How can we address the current challenges?
If you're an executive or other decision maker:
The first thing you should do is drop by our DSE session at 9 am on Wednesday: Seminar #9: Driving Industry Growth through Standards. We'll be giving a brief presentation on the status of various industry standards and how they're already making things better for early adopters. We'll then move to a question-and-answer format to discuss current challenges and talk about strategies for the future. It will be a good introduction to the various efforts for those who haven't yet been involved, but who want to lend their thoughts and influence to matters of technology, content and law.
After that, join a group and make a contribution to the community! POPAI, DSF and DPAA all have standards groups. I think DSA might too, but I don't know for sure. They range from very involved (POPAI's tech group has an hour-long call every week) to much, much less involved (think a few emails a quarter), and there's room for every kind of expertise.
If you're a network owner/operator:
Again, there's no time like the present, so I'd definitely encourage you to check out Seminar 9 to see what the industry can do for you. Remember, to most of the people who have worked on these standards so far, you are the customer and our efforts have largely been designed to help you out. Now we want to make sure that you agree with us, and if not, that you have the opportunity to tell us why.
After that, I'd also encourage you to make sure you're properly educated. There are lots of opportunities for this, and in fact DSE has three other executive-level sessions designed specifically for digital place-based network operators: