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Trying to do an overview of digital signage content management software packages–surveying the many companies that publish and market software, comparing a large variety of functions and features, creating check-lists of what to look for in a software package– is too broad a task for any one issue of any one magazine. When you ask most people in the industry to estimate the number of software vendors, you often hear numbers in the hundreds. (And yet, oddly, the same 20-30 companies seem to always be at the top in terms of market share.) So with each year that passes in this young industry, it becomes increasingly difficult to “survey” all the software providers who claim to have the definitive solution for managing content. And after all, software is software. Unlike hardware it does not have specs that can be nailed down, listed, and compared. Both the software provider and end user can change the specs with extra code or sometimes just by tweaking features.
In this issue we focus on one of the primary differences between the two main digital signage content management software camps: whether their digital signage content management software is a customer-installed solution that runs mainly on “premise-based” servers, or is a “hosted” software as a service (SaaS) that the end user does not “buy” but accesses remotely through a web browser. Of course we are fully aware that many if not most of software vendors claim to “do both”, i.e. they claim they offer both premise-based and SaaS solutions. But most of those are still squarely in one camp when it comes to the vast majority of their sales. So in this special Software section, we present two articles: one from Jeff Collard of Omnivex carrying the banner of the premise-based software camp; and the other from Ryan Cahoy of Rise Vision with his take on why the SaaS approach is ideal for most situations.
We don’t expect to cover all the bases of even this one “premise-based” vs. SaaS debate in these pages. But we’re starting a debate that will carry on in the industry–and carry on, online, because we are featuring an online digital signage content management software vendor comparison chart, at www.digitalsignageweekly.com, that anyone can log onto and view, seeing feature sets as described by the vendors themselves (as well as their responses to a survey that we are sending out, to try to more clearly define just who is in what camp.
On a different note, Digital Signage magazine is proud to be hosting the DSEG (Digital Signage Experts Group) Regional Training Event, collocated with the CEDIA Expo, Atlanta, on September 9th. In addition to the training sessions on digital signage taught by Alan and Jonathan Brawn, the event will also include special sessions hosted by Laura Davis-Taylor )and with some very interesting guest presenters) “Beyond Shopper Engagement: What Retailers, Brands, Agencies and Service Providers Need to Know About New Consumer Technology Innovations That Will Change Marketing, Merchandising, and Advertising”. To register for DSEG training, log onto www.digitalsignageexperts.org. Why a DSEG event CEDIA? Isn’t that a “home theater/home technology” show? The DSEG event we are producing at CEDIA is going to be the most important digital signage event in the industry, this year. Why? At InfoComm in Orlando (the biggest “AV” show in the U.S.) in June, there were a record number of Home AV integrators attending. There has traditionally been crossover between the two markets: commercial AV, and high-end home theater (crossover of installation companies, and design companies, that work in both areas). But this crossover has now evolved to where CEDIA-type installation and design companies are entering seeking to enter the hot digital signage market. And so CEDIA this year will really be a trade show focused on both the consumer technology market, and the commercial AV market. This is why the DSEG event in Atlanta, co-located with the CEDIA show, is going to be a must-attend experience.