What are some of the biggest misconceptions surrounding digital signage implementation and integration?”
An experienced digital signage integrator knows there are always gotchas associated with implementation of a DS network. The real challenge is to minimize gotchas that could have been prevented by good planning and clear communication. The following is a review of a couple of the misconceptions from both the customer’s point of view and te integrator’s point of view, fully recognizing that many companies choose to do their own integration so they experience both sides.
Common Misconceptions of Customers:
1) A customer will often assume that the integrator has thought all the basic logistics through.
a) Shipping and receiving of equipment and secure place to store them.
b) All the necessary permits have been pulled.
c) Worked with the IT department and secured all understandings needed and proofed player connectivity on network.
2) A customer will assume his team can support digital signage content needs
a) Customer often believes web content and DS network content are interchangeable.
b) Customer assumes people will understand how important it is to keep content fresh and relevant.
c) Customer often assumes that internal team will show common sense toward content posted to DS network.
3) Customer will forget or was never informed the DS network is a LIVING ORGANISM and is not a project with an ending.
a) Customer (especially a project manager for a customer) will not secure a long-term management representative that will have SKIN in the GAME.
b) Customer will not set up metrics to force the continual review of the DS investment.
c) Customers will often forget to set up a service plan for their DS network and will experience great stress when something fails.
d) Customers find very little difference or reason to invest in commercial equipment (especially flat panels) for their DS project.
While this list could continue for several pages, the takeaway is that DS projects are different than other AV/IT projects in which customers may have engaged in the past because digital signage includes so many elements they have never had to worry about, and the net result is a failed opportunity to capture the value of their investment.
Common Misconceptions of Integrators:
The following is from the perspective of inexperienced integrators, or those who still look at DS as a regular AV project!
1) Assumes the DS project is just another AV Project.
a) Failure to start by asking all the right questions.
b) Failure to get all stakeholders to the table (e.g., management, human resources, IT, department leadership, marketing, safety, etc.)
c) Underestimate the time a DS project will take
2) Failure to understand the commitment of time and effort to be allotted to manage content.
a) Seldom provide the customer with content creation options and insights on necessary content considerations.
b) HUGE miss of the recurring revenue opportunity in DS represented by content support.
c) Failure to push for or help their customer set up metrics.
3) Integrators who think they will make money selling and installing DS because it is similar to other AV projects
a) HUGE miss of all the key elements to a happy ending, a good written scope of work – setting expectations
b) Overlooking the pilot and proof step that ensures the project will never see a full promised roll out.
c) Thinking they will be able to work with the same people that they always work with on AV projects.
Like the foregoing, a book could literally be written on all the misconceptions the average integrator will have about integrating a DS project.
To clarify, I believe the future is very bright and very profitable for integrators and customers engaging in DS with the following caveat: The integrator, or customers integrating their system in-house, must consider the entire DS ecosystem. To leave any element out is to sign a contract for frustration, pain, cost overruns and likely long-term failure of the DS network. The answers to avoid these misconceptions are readily available from many sources. Digital signage is a mature industry, and there should be no major surprises when an experienced DS professional is involved. The biggest challenge is not to take short cuts, which lead to failed implementations. Use this guiding rule…. If the customer cannot identify up front what values (ROI or ROO or both) the investment in DS will bring, then the project should not move forward.