I recently came across a very interesting blog Technology Is Useless if it Doesn’t Address a Human Need by Meagan Fallone, and I found myself applying this mantra to digital displays and digital advertising solutions. In previous blogs we have been able to demonstrate how digital signage can enhance the ‘user experience’ but does it address a human need?
Digital screens used purely for advertising are definitely more engaging and therefore more effective than traditional print based adverts, but it doesn’t necessarily fit the above ethos. However, when we consider the clever technology (the software) behind the screens responsible for editing, scheduling and the play back of the on screen content, then it could be argued that a human need has indeed been addressed. The need is essentially for efficiency; for quick and instant up-dates to content that can be made remotely without having to visit the location, re-print adverts, or install them.
More interactive digital solutions such as touch screen displays and interactive kiosks – increasingly being utilised by retail – might be regarded by some as being a commodity rather than a necessity. However, the emergence and up-take of web-enabled portable devices like touch screen phones, tablets and iPads have created a significant shift in the way in which we obtain information, interact with one another and even shop. Over the last few years the popularity of on-line retail has increased so significantly that it is now considered the norm. Many retailers have had to respond to this demand creating multichannel shopping streams combining in-store, online and mobile.
Technology itself has therefore played a significant role in driving the human need for multichannel shopping options and the need to have these digitally interactive devices in store so that price and product comparisons can be made online, in-store.
Similarly, digital Wayfinder solutions located in busy shopping centres or tourist information centres are vital to helping users and visitors find their destination. However, as technology develops WayFinder Solutions have to become more advanced to meet the demands of the user. Our own WayFinder Solution now has the ability to connect with users’ mobile devices so that maps, routes and directions can be sent directly to the user device and carried with them. This changes the existing ‘need’ of obtaining printed directions or a map and instead replaces it with a digital need created by the emergence technology.
Ironically, technology is driving changes in human needs and desires and this will only continue. However, it is not proficient to simply slap a bit of ‘digital’ here and there, it has to be planned carefully with the user in mind, always considering how your digital project will benefit the ‘user’ and not just the advertisers. Without this consideration of the human need digital signage is reduced to a commodity. If digital solutions are to be utilised the ‘human need’ has to be addressed to ensure that it remains a necessity.