Eran Sharon, VP of product management at global provider of smart digital media software solutions, YCD Multimedia, gave us an insight into how the digital signage market currently stands and what integrators can do to better serve the market.
What do you think is the most exciting technology in digital signage at the moment?
There are actually many exciting things happening, not all are purely related to technology. But if we had to single our one technology-related item, it would probably be the massive adoption of affordable human interfaces – from touch, through to presence and gesture – allowing viewers a rich, personalised experience. In retail, this translates into immediate access to a wealth of accurate, targeted information that (if done right) assists the buying decision and as a result, the buying process.
What three pieces of advice would you give to an integrator looking to move into the digital signage world?
1) Get familiarised with the eco-system; whether a direct-to-owner or partner/VAR relationship, a typical digital signage project spans a much wider “ownership” circle – from marketing / ideation, content creation , IT, procurement and logistics departments, to - as is common in retail rollouts - dedicated in-house construction and project management teams. Furthermore, these are ongoing projects, and so are your relationships with every member of those teams.
If planning to offer managed services such as ongoing content management, system / network monitoring and maintenance (all great differentiators and source of recurring revenue), then get familiarised with your clients’ content creation workflow and its contributors.
2) As an integrator, you are well-versed in AV best practices, and know the importance of proper planning and execution of complex engineered solutions. Although there are many cases and opportunities for one-offs and large-scale, single venue deployments (megapixel digital icons in hospitality or corporate, for example), key words to remember for Digital Signage would be “scalable” and “repeatable”:
a. If you’re planning to offer “managed services” (a great differentiator and great a great source for recurring revenue) – study your 'extended' eco-system, which begins with content ideation, production, composition, and distribution. Just like in the days of AV/IT convergence - the sooner you and your staff become familiar with your system's role in the grant scheme of things, during especially after deployment, the more valuable your services and expertise will be to your customers.
b. Much like in retail store design, invest in planning a rollout (logistics, labor, schedules, project management).
3) Economics of scale - get the implementation part down to a science – the key part of “repeatable” is to create a framework that is flexible enough to apply across multiple projects and locations, each with sometimes different physical, environmental and logistical challenges.
In digital signage projects, what factors are most commonly overlooked?
1) AV best practices: a simple player & display installation done poorly 500 times can collapse a project or, worse, ruin a good business relationship. “Scalable” and “Repeatable” mean planning and anticipating site challenges, “doing it right”, and continuing to the next site of your customer’s rollout.
2) Technology & product selection – the temptation to deploy consumer grade displays and poor signal management often manifest in reliability and performance issues, return service visits, and customer frustration. If your signage is to be on 24/7 – use 24/7 rated components. Don’t send a 300 Nits display to do a 700+ Nits display job…oh, and if using (non-laser) projectors, make sure your customer okays a maintenance programme for those.