Digital Signage: Fundamentals for Effective Workplace Digital Signage

Category: Digital Signage

Digital Signage in the Workplace:  What Works and Why

by Jude Carter

Workplace digital signage needs a louder voice. All the noise and attention is coming from the retail, entertainment and way-finding space. Yet thousands of companies are looking for ways to use electronic message boards to educate, inform and engage their employees. The problem is, they don’t know where to begin.

The most common (and costly) mistake is to think that it’s all about the technology. While it’s easy to get excited about cutting-edge technology, the hardware is merely a channel for the messages that need to be delivered. Any digital signage system is only as good as the content it is running. (It’s like buying an old-school cork bulletin board. Choosing the board is the easiest part.)So before you even think about plasmas, LCDs, hi-def screens, kiosks and CMS, you’ve got to build your foundation.

Why do you need it?
This is where the old “garbage-in, garbage-out” adage applies. There’s a direct correlation between the clarity of your goals and the effectiveness of your workplace digital signage system. What are your business goals? What is it that you’re trying to change, reinforce or improve? If you think of digital signage as a way to advertise your issues to your people, consider how it can be used for safety awareness, improved engagement, promoting in-house campaigns, recognition, consistent messaging and more.

Who are you trying to reach?
Take a look at your workforce and determine who your target audience is. The solution will vary depending on whether you need to reach workers on all shifts, management, contractors, drivers, etc.

Where are they located?
You’ll want to install your DS in high traffic areas where workers are sure to see it. Are they on the plant floor, in offices, cubicles, on the road, in one building or many? Defining this upfront will help you determine how many screens you’ll need for maximum coverage.

What do they need to know?
Your messages will vary, depending on your audience, their function and location. If you’re considering multiple screens, you may have consistent messaging throughout, unique content by location, or a mix of both. For example, in the call center, you may want to post live metrics and motivational messages, whereas on the plant floor the focus is on safety awareness. There might be corporate messages in the mix that you’ll want everyone to see.

The Content Challenge
Once you’ve defined the basic parameters of your DS program, you can focus on the content the key to any successful deployment. There are two critical aspects to consider: content creation and content management. Your success will require an effective balance of both.

Content Creation
You may have decided that you want to use your digital signage for safety awareness, production metrics and employee recognition; but who will create it? One person or contributors from multiple departments? Will the content be produced in-house or will it be outsourced? Who will edit the content to determine accuracy & appropriateness? Digital signage enables you to add visual impact, color, animation and sound to your communication. Do you have resources to make your messages come to life? If all you’re doing is posting a bunch of announcements and bullet-point PPTs, you’re on your way to creating another bad bulletin board. But if your current in-house Power Point, Word and Excel docs look pretty good, make sure your Digital Signage system can upload them easily, without conversion issues.

Content Management
Digital signage is a 24/7 medium. Keeping the content fresh, relevant, on-strategy and graphically appealing requires management of content providers and play lists. Good content management software provides dashboards and enterprise tools that can simplify the process. Nonetheless, it takes a LOT of content to make your program work. Too many companies suffer from the “Blank Screen Syndrome” because they have not put enough attention on their content strategy and how it will be executed.  This is an expensive mistake, and one that can easily give workplace digital signage a bad name.

Ease of Use
The digital signage world is a broad one, encompassing many applications such as retail, airports, restaurants… and corporate communications.  Make sure the system you buy is designed specifically for what you need.  The more targeted it is to your needs, the easier it will be to use, as opposed to systems that are “one-size-fits-all” or worse, designed for the wrong application.

The reality of everything discussed here is that it’s all about ownership. Workplace digital signage can be a highly effective communication channel for reinforcing key messages and influencing behavior. But it’s a long-term commitment that requires care and feeding, both from a content and technology point of view. Once you’re clear on who owns it and what your goals are, it makes it much easier to find the right partner for a successful deployment.

Jude Carter is director of marketing for the Marlin Company, a leader in the field of workplace communication, specializing in workplace digital signage systems and custom content utilizing solid industry research and the latest in technology. As director of marketing, Carter is responsible for developing and executing the company’s integrated marketing strategy, which includes brand awareness, lead generation, direct marketing, events, PR, business development support and training.

Jude’s article was originally published at Digital Signage Expo.

August 19, 2011

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