The deployment is now complete and you are the proud owner of a digital signage network. The resources that were on the project have now handed over the keys, and it is now considered operational. It is an exciting time indeed, and you set to work about getting the ROI/ROO. What you perhaps weren’t ready for is that most digital signage networks fail post deployment, not during, and technology choices are only one part of the story.
Here are 4 key decision areas that can cause grief post deployment.
1) Technology Decisions
I am going to skip over the Residential Vs Commercial Grade screens debate. There is an inverse relationship between Total Cost of Ownership and Total Cost of Operation. Up front savings often lead to greater ongoing costs and none can be as significant as buying the wrong screens.
Standardisation of Screen Layouts.
No two sites are the same, but standardising the design of the install as well as placement makes maintaining the network much easier than if each site is a custom design. Sure, the specific location will be different depending on practical issues, but a level of standardisation allows your marketing/comms department to design content that is consistent and relevant for the locations. Designing and repurposing content for multiple aspect ratios and screen orientations can get expensive fast, and this can also slow down the speed at which content can be changed on the network, taking away a prominent benefit of going digital.
Standardisation of Install
Regardless of how amazing a digital signage solution is, there is going to be a need at some point for a local person to check lights or restart something. The better the solution, the rarer it is, but there is no avoiding this reality of technology. Never underestimate the power of convenience when you are trying to get a non-technical person to assist you in restarting/checking something. Asking them to climb on ladders or become contortionists in order to restart/check lights is going to make them less interested in assisting, and the result of this will be more technician call outs to resolve issues that could be extremely simple to fix.
Good thought should be given to where things are being mounted and how the solution will be maintained, not just what will look the best or what is the lowest cost.
Finally, and we of course will have a bias here, the software choice. Hardware companies shouldn't touch software - they are no good at it and it shows very quickly as your network grows in requirement. We have migrated many customers from other software solutions to the Five Faces Platform, and the most common things we hear are:
"We don't get good support from the Software Vendor"
"The Software is too complex or not easy to use."
"The Software doesn’t give me the flexibility to control my network and see what’s happening on it"
“I want the software to integrate or allow localised control, and we can’t”
Yes - it can be solved by simply calling us, but cheekiness aside, choosing the right software is very important. If your network is large, don't go with the hardware based solutions out there because you'll be calling us at a later point to fix it. Use enterprise software. The costs are no longer anywhere near what they used to be, and the benefits are paradigm altering.
2) Design Decisions
Every Architect, Designer, Marketing and Fit Out person I know will use the word “recess”. The idea being that you "recess" the screen into the wall such that it sits flush. The result is very attractive and it is a common installation style for a digital network. However, from an operational stand point, there are some risks. Digital Screen sizes change frequently, and often you'll find that over a surprisingly short period, the recess (hole in the wall) you made will be too big/too small for the next generation of screens. This creates quite a problem when doing replacements or managing the network. Of course, you can mitigate this by giving leeway in the recess made, and use clever shop design to make it work, and that’s perfect, but this sometimes doesn’t happen and the result can be quite expensive and unmanageable as the equipment gets older and needs replacing.
3) User Decisions
So you have assigned the job of scheduling and using the software to someone in your organisation, perhaps two or three. However, they fall sick, or perhaps leave the organisation, creating a situation where the network is orphaned without an owner. The result is old/wrong content on the network and a sudden drop of interest in the use of it.
Also, when a screen goes down, it can be quite detrimental from a marketing/branding perspective, but to an IT department that is typically under resourced and dealing with so many mission critical matters, it often falls somewhere in the middle. The result can be screens that are down for longer than they should be. ‘Outsourcing’ this part of the management is a great way to ensure a level of consistent service of your network. One way to deal with this is to outsource the management of the network to a vendor (we have a service layer that manages this), or alteratively, set an internal SLA that defines response times and actions for support.
4) Content Decisions
You’ve heard it before in almost all marketing mediums – ‘Content is King’, and it couldn’t be more true for digital signage networks. The entire network is pointless if the content going on it is not engaging, relevant and updated, and this needs to factored into your budget. With the right software, you can automate and delegate content such as allowing localised control via Apps or integrate with your online platform to automate content delivery, but whichever way you go, having good content and budgeting for it is key to its success.
There are some great agencies here in Australia that do great digital signage content if your resources are falling short, and the fee structures are getting lower and more accessible. Do not hesitate to contact us should you wish to discuss your project in more detail. Our experienced managers can design a solution to suit your business and ensure a successful network through the entire life of the solution, not just the deployment.