Thursday, April 11, 2013

Digital Signage “Need To Know”: Exponential Growth for the LED Sign Industry?

“The basic goal-reaching principle is to understand that you go as far as you can see, and when you get there you will be able to see farther.” Zig Ziglar

There are so many quotes on being successful that an entire family of blogs could be written. The one I like the most is paraphrased “The hardest thing about being successful is continuing to be successful.”

Few people would question the impact that LED sign technology has made upon on-premise, and off-premise advertising. Further, timely information sharing by government agencies, transportation concerns and manufacturing (to name just a few) is facilitated by the LED sign. 

Business has been good, growth has been positive, technology has moved on and once tightly-wound, anti-LED sign communities are realizing that “there is nothing to fear, except fear itself,” as rules are relaxed allowing LED signs to be installed.

But where are we? No one knows for sure, but some think that the LED sign industry is ready for exponential growth. Could be, but to understand this phenom, we must know what exponential growth is.

Wikipedia describes exponential growth as “Exponential growth occurs when the growth rate of the value of a mathematical function is proportional to the function's current value.”

Simply said, the growth in the current period is proportional to the number of transactions in the most recent period. It is important to note that exponential growth can’t continue indefinitely as the number of customers on earth is exceeded. But for the near term- exponential growth is a good thing!

What are the considerations of exponential growth? What must be present for exponential growth to begin and to perpetuate?

First-Mover Advantage

Depending how one looks at First-Mover Advantage, either this factor exists in the LED sign industry 100%, or not at all. If you see the LED sign industry as a subset of the existing sign industry, and since signs have been around for thousands of years,  then clearly there is no way the First-Mover Advantage exists. 

If you see the LED sign industry as being a stand-alone industry, totally unique in many ways, with an offering that does not compare significantly to other elements of the conventional sign industry then the First Mover Advantage does exist.

I believe in the later with the analogy that a calculator is really not a manual adding machine any more than a LED sign is a Reader Board.

Product Innovation

The LED sign industry has been “knee-deep” in product innovation since its inception. These innovations do not exist to just be “cool” but rather to answer some consumer need: bright LEDs, longer life LEDs, faster processors, industrial PCs with solid state hard drives, virtual pixel technology, easy system use through simple software and more. Recently some industry plateauing of product innovation seems to have occurred. This is inevitable until a technological breakthrough occurs or consumers demand more from their investment and companies listen to their customer.

Trying to change the dynamic of how an LED sign can function through technology introduction was seen at the recent ISA Expo 2013 as user remote control of LED networks was realized using multiple platforms such as i-Pad, Android tablet, and laptop access using the ubiquitous “Cloud”. Also, conditional programming options for content display was another innovative idea seen that indicates innovation may be picking up.

Innovation will continue improving the LED sign product offering making it more simple, powerful and reliable. These enhancements will drive widespread acceptance, and that acceptance will drive down price as demand increases.

Financial Capital and Demand Changes

So much of our world is dependent and interconnected. So it follows that having sufficient capital must exist for technology changes to occur to drive consumer demand fast enough to create exponential growth.

Looking at the major players in the LED sign industry and the amount of capitalization that exists (domestic and international) it’s clear there's adequate funding to take the industry in any direction desired. But what comes first, investment in engineering and technology through adequate capitalization or explosive consumer demand? With capital investment in advanced machinery, engineering and production comes the newer product with the features and conveniences to create benefits apparent to the customer, increasing demand. 

Already in many markets LED signs are the expectation, not the exception. Further, like what happened in the Television industry, the grayscale LED sign (the black and white TV) is being antiquated by the RGB full-color LED sign (the color TV) as prices have been reduced.

The excitement does not seem to be coming from the “old guard” manufacturers in the LED sign industry as much as with newer companies, the younger companies that see a different future for the LED sign industry. Perhaps they see the LED sign as something other than a metal box with flashy lights and more of a robust data-oriented communications platform capable of a sophisticated functions, yet easy to control and master.

The automobile industry, the television industry, the VCR industry, the PC industry and the Cell Phone industry experienced exponential growth when the above 4 conditions occurred. Looking at a sales chart that reflects this exponential growth there is what appears to be a huge and instant sales explosion. What really happens is that the rate of growth just continues at the same rate from period to period. We are headed in that direction- now.

Are you ready for the exponential growth? When the critical mass of customers is reached, the need for an easy-to-use product is realized and the price/benefit relationship is resolved and the previously mentioned items are in-play the “race is on!”

Get your trucks warmed up, cause there’s “Gold in them LED signs!”

These comments belong to me, Mike Prongue, and do not reflect the views, opinions, hopes or dreams of anyone else, anywhere else and this includes Vantage LED. I appreciate your constructive opinion which may be sent to me at 

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