MDM is Transforming How Businesses View Digital Signage


Signage. It’s an aspect of business operations sure to make any small-to-medium business, or SMB, owner roll their eyes or shuffle uncomfortably, and it’s clear to see why. Printed signs are labor-intensive; requiring hours of design, high costs for printing, and the effort of installation. They’re also static, becoming outdated within weeks, and sometimes even days of being displayed. With all this in mind, it’s no wonder many SMBs are turning to digital signage.

Digital signage isn’t without drawbacks, and this is particularly true for SMBs, with many finding the prohibitively high cost of digital signage infrastructure and installation a challenge. Unfortunately, this situation has been created by a market divided between expensive and proprietary vendors, of which only large corporations can justify the cost, which can range anywhere from $6,000 to $30,000[1]. But, with the emergence of new technologies (tablets in particular), new shortcuts to digital signage for SMBs have emerged, with many other benefits in tow.

Surprisingly, this emergence comes in the form of mobile device management, or MDM, a technological solution that enables businesses to monitor and manage business-deployed mobile devices remotely. Some of these solutions go further than just device management; however, having the capability to turn tablets, smartphones, or smart devices into single or multi-function kiosks, which can easily be modified to become digital signage.

Unlike specialized vendors, these MDM solutions empower SMBs to be in complete control of their digital signage strategy, from installation and customization to placement and maintenance. Business owners now have much more flexibility and freedom in deciding how they want to set up their business operations.

This control enables SMBs to create their own advertisements and distribute them to deployed devices via file-transfer capabilities before opening the advertisement and locking the device into kiosk mode. This ensures the device can’t be tampered with or used for any function aside from the intended digital signage.

This control is taken a step further, with MDM solutions enabling SMBs the flexibility to change digital ad-signage on the spot, especially in the case of ‘flash sales’ or daily deals, without having to work closely with a specialized vendor or plan sales weeks in advance to ensure the vendor has time to create, approve and deploy digital advertisements in time for the actual sale. The fast deployment time for digital advertisements is especially beneficial for food-based businesses, where overstocked items need to be moved quickly to avoid significant losses.

A gelato company, for example, has a ‘spooky’ pumpkin spice flavored gelato specially developed for Halloween. But on October 28, management realizes they have an overstock of product that needs to be sold before November 1. Instead of relying on sales staff to sell the product verbally – a practice many businesses use – management can create a digital advertisement promoting a sale on the flavor, and have it displayed within hours at no additional cost.

MDM functionalities can also turn digital signage into an interactive advertising experience for customers. For example, using a kiosk mode-enabled MDM solution, SMBs can turn tablets into sampling booths for headphones. Most kiosk-mode enabled solutions offer an app-whitelisting function, where one or more approved – or ‘whitelisted’ – apps will appear on the device. An audiovisual SMB can whitelist only music-specific apps, like Google Play and Spotify, so customers can hear the quality of sound without the company incurring the costs of installing specialized proprietary listening booths or having unregulated, off-the-shelf devices which are prone to tampering.

These digital kiosks also offer SMBs the opportunity to coordinate digital signage with existing customer retention and customer self-service strategies. Through the app-whitelisting function, these devices can become on-the-spot customer feedback stations and digital product catalogs, where customers can place orders for product not in stock. Prior to MDM, SMBs would have to invest in specific infrastructure to offer each of these capabilities as traditional kiosks tend to be focused on one function only. With kiosk-enabled MDM solutions, a simple tablet can have many different roles. This has both cost and space-saving benefits.

With all these applications in mind, what factors do SMBs need to consider when choosing an MDM solution for digital signage and kiosk purposes?

  • A solution with base functionalities needed to deploy and manage digital signage, including bulk file transfers, kiosk mode, and remote control capabilities.
  • The ability to manage a range of devices at scale – for SMBs, it’s best to look for a solution with a lower minimum limit to avoid paying for unnecessary device-management capacity.
  • Dedicated-device management. For example, if an SMB only operates using Android devices, it’s best to choose an Android-dedicated MDM solution to avoid cross-platform software bugs.

While MDM solutions aren’t dedicated digital signage solutions, with the right capabilities and knowledge, they can empower SMBs to implement, manage and deploy a range of their own digital signage and kiosk strategies with minimal effort and at a fraction of the cost.


About Author

Anson Shiong is CEO of Sand Studio, the developer of mobile device management (MDM) solution for Android devices, AirDroid Business.

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