Digital Signage Systems:  Which Type is Best for You?

By Frank Kenna

In my last post I talked about Digital Signage (DS) systems as a great way to ramp up your internal communications strategy.  Today I’ll address what some different types of DS might look like for your organization.

A good way to approach this is to answer the who, what, when, why and how questions listed in my last post.  Answering these questions is important because the way a package delivery company (for instance) will want to use DS is quite different from the way a local nursing home might.  For example, the package delivery company is probably focused on fast delivery and safety metrics, information that is available from their corporate HQ reporting systems.  On the other hand, the nursing home is probably focused on quality of care issues and communicating with relatives visiting their facility, so content is locally created using tools like PowerPoint or Word.

Taking this into account, let’s look at some alternatives, going from simple and inexpensive to robust and more expensive.

Simple – If your needs are pretty basic, then you might qualify for a do-it-yourself system.  Let’s say that you want a DS unit in your lobby to welcome visitors and maybe show some of your products.  This could easily be accomplished by using a low-powered PC and a flat screen of whatever size works best.  About $1,000 total.  Simply create a nice looking PowerPoint show with your company name, logo, a couple of product photos, and a “Welcome To” screen.  Advantages: cheap and fast to implement.  Disadvantages: manual operation that someone has to manage, no outside content, no outside support, no theory & science behind the product.

Moderate – There are a number of low-cost digital signage systems that you can buy for under $50 per month that allow you to do some pretty interesting stuff.  You’ll still need to buy the hardware, but the software generally allows you to add outside content and make eye-catching special effects on your own content.  Advantages:  Relatively inexpensive, ability to create some decent local content.  Disadvantages: you have to source and set up, you’ll need someone with strong technical knowledge to maintain the system, content feeds are generally non-work related, very little to no tech support, limited document upload ability, limited toolset for scheduling, time zone support, etc.

Robust – These digital signage systems, in which I would include our products, are for companies that need a program that will truly engage their employees and help management instill new behaviors across their enterprise.  While these DS systems can range from $150 to $500 per month, they are focused on making your communications job easier, allowing you to focus on running your business, not running DS systems.  Advantages: Turnkey systems, very good customer & tech support, workplace-related content sometimes available, ability to display live metrics from company databases, easy to create a variety of in-house content, strong toolset for managing content, multiple-layer enterprise support, configurable admin permissions.  Disadvantages: Most expensive option, although I’d argue that for companies that truly need a ‘real’ workplace communication program, these systems represent the best value by far.  That’s because if you can genuinely influence your employees’ behaviors toward things that are important to you and your company, the dollars savings can be huge.  But to do that, you need to have a DS system that performs effectively.

Jude Carter
September 13, 2011

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