One of the lessons learned during a tough economic time is “doing more with less.” When you cut through the hype, this translates to having more work heaped on you and less resources to accomplish your goals. But smart integrators and dealers are taking what could be a negative and showing their clients how digital visual messaging greatly improves communication initiatives and actually uses less resources than traditional static means.
The premise behind this idea is focusing clients on the efficiencies of using a digital visual messaging network that goes far beyond simply “digital signage.” The discussion with the client is two- fold. First is educating the client on uses beyond their initial request. Second is innovation in the design anddeployment of the network. Let’s talk about content strategy first. We have found ourselves in many situations where clients want to focus on technology, when content strategy should be the conversation that drives all the technical aspects of the network.
Understanding the key initiatives of the organization with whom you are working allows you to expand on their original plans for digital signage to create a unified digital visual messaging program. This premise is valid for both customer facing initiatives as well as employee facing initiatives. The only difference is who the organizational participants are, and the roles they play in the strategy development.
Once the high level strategy is defined the tactical practice of how the communication is to be delivered begins. At this point, it is time to look at not only who within the organization owns the program, but also how will it be managed and what type of visual projection technology would be best suited to deploy the messaging.
As we address the technological requirements, it is important to recognize there is more than one way to do just about anything. This is evidenced by the 300+ software packages out there that claim to be the “best” digital signage software. The key is to match the client requirements with a technology infrastructure that is stable, easy to use, easy to manage, and will grow as their needs grow. Providers need to have experience in multiple technology disciplines as the DVM enabling technology spans two diverse areas — Audio Visual equipment; and IT software, hardware and peripherals.
As we continue to see a convergence of technology in the digital signage market providers are able to look at the overall economy of a network with a broader vision. The commercial AV mindset is switching from hardware to make it happen, to software—and the IT side of the house is becoming more comfortable with an IP based signage network. The successful providers are evaluating the technology mix and building an efficient, affordable solution.
There have also been several technical breakthroughs that have furthered the convergence of these two different technology disciplines. Projection and display manufacturers are integrating software to expand display capabilities and continue to provide connectivity options that allow displays to be networked more easily. Additionally, technologies that were primarily used in the IT world have been optimized for digital signage and are migrating into this space (like IP streaming and signal extension over Cat 5 cable). These technologies have improved the ability to extend networks into challenging environments affordably without loss of quality.
The final challenge in maximizing the economy of your DVM network is installation, ongoing management, monitoring and maintenance. Historically, this is the area that is most vulnerable to increasing cost if not planned out well. This is also the area were flexibility is key.
We are seeing a new business model emerge, where Service Providers are offering new clients a SaaS program for a period of time, with a capability of migrating to an owned solution as their business grows and needs change. This is an innovation that allows organizations new to DVM the opportunity to learn as they go and collaborate on the best operational strategy for their network. The Service Provider, whether rooted in IT, AV or both must be the trusted advisor. Organizations need information and guidance to make their decisions and they are willing to compensate for this assistance.