It seems that every day, a new digital signage provider pops up. With hundreds to choose from, it’s no wonder that buyers are confused about who is the best partner for them. What makes it even more confusing is that most digital signage providers are focused on the business-to-consumer space, e.g., retail, quick serve restaurants and entertainment where the main goal is marketing and advertising.
Communication in the workplace is a very different animal. Before you even think about shopping for a digital signage provider, you need to get clear on your objectives. The more you know about how you want to use digital signage and who you’re trying to reach, the better your chances will be of finding the right solution. The biggest mistake that companies make is in thinking that the decision is all about the technology – the screens, the media players, the network options. But that’s only part of the picture.
Here’s what to look for:
1. Ease of use Chances are you spend 75% of your time in meetings, so you need to be as efficient as possible with your time. You want to make sure that the content management software is really easy to use. Be sure you find out exactly what is involved in posting and creating content, and in managing your users. Know the type of files you wish to upload (PowerPoint, Excel, PDF, video, Word, etc.), and ask to see a demo of how this is done. You’ll want to know that an administrative-level employee can post content easily and quickly, and that it does not require someone with advanced design or technical skills. Ask about dashboard and play list tools for organizing, scheduling, and searching for content.
2. Content Your workplace digital signage will live or die based on the quality, relevance and quantity of your content. Companies always underestimate how much content they need, especially if they are running it 24/7. Most digital signage companies provide some type of content, either live feeds for news, sports, entertainment, weather, or fee-based content and creative services. Find out what kind of content support is available and how the costs are structured. If you’re looking for a broad-based solution with multiple screens at various locations, you will be managing a lot of content.
3. Reach If you require an enterprise solution, be sure to find out how you will be able to manage users and permissions for content creation. Do you want to control all content from HQ, or assign local permissions? Ask to see how you can do either. Employees come and go, and organizations change. You’ll want to know what’s involved in making edits to accommodate these changes. Ask to speak to other enterprise customers to see how easy it is…or isn’t.
4. Support Internal stakeholder commitment and involvement will help you determine how much outside support you’ll need. Does your potential partner offer a turnkey solution, if needed? Is technical support and training readily available, and is it included in the price?
5. Security Before you go shopping for a partner, be sure to check with your IT department to understand your internal security requirements. Wireless or wired? SaaS or self-hosted? Getting clear on this will narrow the field of possible providers and help you project costs.
6. Price Pricing models vary widely, from turnkey solutions that include hardware, software, and licensing fees to a la carte offerings and subscription-based models. Often digital signage products are sold through reseller networks. Within any given network, there are sources for screens, media players, software, consultative services, design, and content support. Find out how these services are priced. Beware of hidden costs that may be layered in after the initial purchase.
7. Stability Digital signage providers come and go. Some are venture backed, coming on strong, but not lasting. Remember, digital signage is not a one-and-done purchase. It’s a “care-and-feeding” model. Whether it’s tech support, software upgrades or content services, you need to know that you’re covered. So, know who you are dealing with, how many installations they’ve done, and how long they’ve been in the business. And be sure to ask for references.
Bottom line: Know what’s most important to you. Ask the right questions. Demo the product.
And most of all, don’t forget to call us, The Marlin Company. We’re the workplace communication experts.