Public Displays and Brexit

I’m writing this editorial at the Digital Signage Summit in Munich. It’s interesting that there is very little about hardware in the whole event – I’m one of only a couple of hardware people on the whole two day agenda (we’ll have a report next week). That seems to reinforce my comments from a few weeks ago, that digital signage is reaching a level of maturity. These days, it’s not about whether you can create compelling displays and deliver content, that’s taken as read, it’s about how to use that technology to drive sales and business objectives.

There was a time when you needed a specialist integrator and an IT department to put together a digital signage network. However, now with SoCs and Android-based platforms available, the systems side is covered and there is lots of web-based content and web-based tools as well as quite robust broadband. Those barriers have come down, which, it was hoped, would drive the low end of the market. This has happened to some extent, but some of the demand has ‘leaked away’ from the professional market to be taken up by TVs and hasn’t really driven the professional side.

It seems to me that the real barrier is developing good content and keeping that content up to date and that is a significant overhead for small businesses. There are those that will do it, but not that many and that explains the slowing down of growth in the Western European markets.

In general, I try to avoid politics in my editorials, but I’m writing this on the afternoon and evening of 23rd June, the day of the UK’s vote on ‘Brexit’. By the time you read this, the result will be known. I’m really hoping that the UK has seen sense and decided to stay in the European Union. That doesn’t mean that I think that the Union and its structure and institutions are the right ones (and I have been involved with the commission in competition, trade issues, energy usage and ROHS over thirty years and think I have some understanding of both its strengths and weaknesses). Nevertheless, I strongly (perhaps passionately) believe that it would be better to be in the EU and changing it for the better, rather than simply storming out.

I read a lovely editorial in ‘The Times’ today that suggested that if there is an exit, those that voted for it would be like ‘children that need to pee in their pants. Eventually, they give in and do it, which is pleasing and warm, but then the cold and wet feeling starts – and we all have to share the pants!’. This echoes my view that those that vote for Brexit are the most likely to be damaged by it.

Most of the underlying desire for the vote is a fear of immigration, and the reality is that when it comes to immigration from outside the EU, nothing changes if the UK leaves. When it comes to immigration from inside the EU, the UK will be forced to accept free movement of people if it wants to have the kind of free trade deal enjoyed by Norway and Switzerland, so, again, nothing will change.

So, in the phrase that I hate when my writers use it ‘time will tell’ what the result will be. I just hope it’s ‘Remain’.


* Fortunately, we have a proxy voting system, so I was able to nominate somebody to vote on my behalf, as I am in Germany.