Awareness and understanding of artificial Intelligence have expanded greatly, resulting in many industry leaders focusing on how to capitalize on this global phenomenon. Highly visible tech innovator, Elon Musk, warned that A.I could be “an immortal dictator from which we would never escape”, while some countries believe it to be the key to resolving complex social problems. While countries and companies compete to establish dominance in the growing demand for A.I, there is a clear winner on who benefits the greatest from these developments: consumers.
Data collection is one of the largest reasons that corporate behemoths like Google and Apple have such strong brand awareness around the globe. A.I makes data capture much more concise with adaptive learning algorithms that can enhance the data that is being received to be much more useful for advertisers to capitalize on. Corporations use the data information that consumers voluntarily provide and compile all of it to develop a customer profile of each individual user. They then sell that information to marketing companies to utilize in order to effectively tailor products and services to each person’s preference in real time. Having the best data collection and process will help a business establish a significant competitive advantage if executed properly.
To better understand how A.I in the Digital Signage market will benefit customers, here’s a real life example:
Two retailers are located directly next to each other in a shopping mall. Both companies have identical interactive digital signage solutions with the only difference being that one has A.I capabilities and the other does not. Susan, an active 45 year- old marathon runner, enters each store looking for a specific pair of running shoes for her upcoming race. She first enters the store without the A.I capabilities where she sees many advertisements for discounts for men’s, children’s and women's apparel. It is the beginning of spring and as a result the retailer is also marketing soccer and golf products, none of which capture Susan’s attention or are relevant to her interests. Upon arriving in the women’s sports apparel department, her attention is pulled to a large kiosk, where she begins putting in her identifying information to research which shoes will be the best fit. Now that Susan voluntarily provided the information on what brought her into their store, the store will effectively narrow the marketing parameters to a specific set of products. Having to rely on customers to stop and input their information is a big disadvantage in an age where online shopping is at an all-time high because of its convenience.
After exploring the first retail space and leaving without making a purchase, Susan decides to try the retailer next door, which has A.I digital signage kiosks. Once again, her attention is pulled to the digital signage kiosk located in the running section of the store. However this time the digital signage using a complex system that combines the power of A.I algorithms, facial/body recognition, and user input can identify the customer as a middle aged female looking for running shoes, and begins showing advertisements catered exclusively to her demographic. Susan finds an informational graphic that allows her to compare shoes that are better suited for off-trail running or for the streets of New York City, where she lives. It might even go a step further and offer suggestions on what the most popular products leading up to marathons may be. This additional layer of consumer engagement is worth millions of dollars in additional sales, overall market share, and long-term customer loyalty.
Digital signage with A.I integrated is already being tested and examples of its utility are being implemented in larger cities currently. The most successful example that I have witnessed, due to my proximity to New York City, are the Amazon Go Grocery Store locations that were deployed late 2016 internally and specific cities in 2018. As I write this article, Amazon Go plans to expand their capabilities to London in the upcoming days. The shopping experience that I detailed above is basically how Amazon Go operates, which we will explore. In order for customers to use the benefits of the Amazon store, they must download a mobile application that is synced with the their Amazon.com account prior to entering the store. The system that enables the store to operate without employees or checkout lines is a combination of facial recognition cameras, proximity sensors, RFID tags and Digital Signage. This ecosystem of technology can identify the customer by facial recognition and automatically show product location based on an optional “grocery list” created within the app, tailor similar products and discounts for items already in the customer's possession. Sensors trigger the stores inventory system when customers pick up products from around the store. The best part of this retail experience for customers is when they are finished shopping, they simply walk out the door and their Amazon account automatically gets billed.
The drastic difference between the two digital signage applications that Susan engaged with is the degree to which they encourage her engagement. In the same way companies like Amazon have dominated the consumer experience on the web, A.I gives retailers the opportunity to implement these solutions in brick and mortar locations. This advantage is imperative for retailers to stay in business as the rise of online shopping, which has taken a significant amount of market share from companies in the past decade.
While there are many benefits and unknowns about the future of Digital Signage with A.I capabilities, one thing is for certain: AI digital signage can make all the difference in terms of gaining and retaining customers. With the growth of the A.I industry expected to be around $191 Billion and the growth of Digital Signage Markets (without A.I) expected to be around $33 Billion by 2024, major developments are certainly emerging that will change the way individuals interact with companies and brands.