Consider this example project involving Woolpert (a design, geospatial and infrastructure management) and Madison + Fifth (a digital brand management agency). Neither company is your classic VAR or MSP. But take a closer look and you'll begin to see how this truly is a partner engagement involving next-generation digital signage.
It goes something like this, according to Google:
- The Liberty Center -- a retail gathering place outside of Cincinnati -- features shopping, restaurants, a hotel, offices and upscale housing.
- The center wanted a next-generation way to help visitors, shoppers and residents to navigate the center.
In response, Chris Shirer, president and chief strategist of Madison + Fifth, told Google: "We decided to build a solution that would work on touchscreen kiosks and mobile devices to detect visitors’ locations and give them interactive walking directions in real time."
Google Maps and Programming Skills
The underlying technology involves Google Maps APIs, along with some custom programming from Woolpert. The resulting app scales automatically up to the large size of a kiosk and down to smartphones’ small screen sizes. The web-based app means users can simply launch their smartphone browsers to use the service.
Pretty slick. And a simple example of how Google partners are melding digital signage with the web, wireless, location-based services, some programming skills and Google Maps. Alas, I don't have a feel for how much time this project consumed, or Woolperts revenues/margins on the deal.
But the point is this: Digital signage opportunities go far beyond fast food menus and flight departure signs these days. Spending in the digital signage market is expected to reach $23.76 Billion by 2020, a compound annual growth rate of 8.18% between 2015 and 2020, according to Markets and Markets.
I'm always a bit wary of market forecasts -- especially when so much of the spend likely involves low-margin hardware (i.e, large-screen monitors) and basic network infrastructure. But I keep coming back to Woolpert's skills as a Google Maps programming shop -- surely that skill set is high-value to customers these days.
Google's Broader Partner Program
Google, of course, has been working to promote a unified partner program to all sorts of companies. The company has also bolstered its Google for Work Strategic Alliance team. And a partner summit is expected within the next few months.
Of course, the company continues to face intense pressure from Microsoft Office 365, and new offerings like Amazon WorkMail could introduce new competition in the market. And that's exactly why Google Maps API skills could be a big differentiator for the company -- and its partners.