Ask the Board – March 28, 2016 | FRANK McGUINNESS


In what ways have you been able to exploit your existing digital signage network beyond the original business objectives to provide greater benefit than originally promised?

I think everyone goes into their initial digital signage projects knowing their value estimates will be pretty far off. You honestly don’t know what you don’t know. So, in which ways do you find additional benefit?
Behold, the amazing power of numbered bullet points!

1. Cost Savings
Generally, some of your hardware will meet and exceed its supposed lifespan by a fair margin. Your initial network plans hopefully were pretty pessimistic, but running your install will teach you how your environment (indoor vs. outdoor, temperature, weather, level of customer interaction, etc.) changes those lifespan estimates. So maybe you don’t need to swap out players yearly, maybe those screens last another two years, maybe you really didn’t need those two extra software packages that seemed so critical at the beginning. Also, depending on how you support your network, you might end up figuring out the right mix of internal support vs. outsourced models, which can be a source of additional savings. Additionally, I am quite sure we learned about what worked and didn’t work in how to network out install locations, which saved in both technical headaches and better planning for each run. You acquire valuable insights that generally shape up into cost savings for keeping your install running and scoping out future deployments.

2. Expansion of Functionality
Maybe your deployment started as a pure F&B menu board with promotions, but after some time of running and optimizing your campaigns, you started thinking about the rest of your business. Maybe some customer segments were more open to cross-product promotion, maybe there is an opportunity to go far deeper than broad dayparting of content or maybe you ventured out into corporate alliances or sponsors? Maybe some of the value is not measured in dollars, but in reductions of perceived wait time or other customer satisfaction metrics that are important to your location. Before you know it, you’ve moved beyond those original value streams, and into a more complex set of goals and synergies across your lines of business.

3. Analytics
One item that is dear to my heart is the understanding you slowly cultivate about how to measure the impact of your investment. To me, reading the question of how to exploit your network beyond its designed intent immediately goes to not “does it hit a specific dollar amount in a plan”, but answering the question of “am I really normalizing for everything?” It’s pretty easy to do a year over year calculation about volumes and say you are selling more T-shirts, so the digital signage must be paying off. Going beyond the simple analytics package that might have been bundled in your turnkey digital signage solution, modeling out the changes to product mix, seasonality, and incrementalism, this is a payoff unto itself. Now you know what is the true impact. Now you are not blindly pulling at levers, and now you accept you are going to keep working to make it better.

The above is most certainly not a comprehensive list by any stretch, but as I think back to the early days of our own implementations, the more I am amazed at the gulf of what I didn’t know. The more you implement and innovate, the more you see how your business reacts to your network, the greater chance you have to find additional value, knowledge and justification for future plans. And just because it recently took place at the Las Vegas Convention Center, I will shamelessly point out that shows such as the Digital Signage Expo (DSE) are a fantastic way to acquire some of this hard won trove of insights. You really want to seek out fellow end users who walked in with rose-colored glasses and figured out what their respective realities looked like. Such conferences and organizations such as the Digital Signage Federation provide a wealth of training, casual networking opportunities and a shortcut to slugging it out on your own. In short, you don’t have to go it alone.

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Integration Consultant
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts

End User Council

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