Presenting at the Ingram Micro Connex Show last week I was struck at how many IT Resellers still expect the ‘Silver Bullet’ solution for Digital Signage.It’s not entirely their fault. PR in our field has long made a concerted effort to pitch the promise of ‘turnkey or all-encompassing’ solutions.
Distributors invested in technical support tools and dedicated Digital Signage divisions making it easier to single-source a solution, adding perceived simplicity.
Industry’s marketing collateral promises cookie-cutter ‘complete solutions’ that largely overlook crucial elements of content-driven hardware requirements, nuances of video playback, IP connectivity, remote management, software capabilities (and shortcomings).
Content strategy, a key element of any successful project and the reason the end-user is hanging the actual sign in the first place, is completely ignored.
Now, does a single vendor (not an integrator, selling its services as a ‘turn-key’ product) actually have a full solution?
Some vendors come close, offering wide hardware ranges and even supplementary software but can you hang the display, turn on the power and expect it to work like a conventional lightbox?
Certainly not, especially across multiple applications with various content and business requirements – it’s just not that simple.
If only corporate firewalls, Microsoft Exchange servers and databases were planned, sold and deployed on the same ‘turn-key’ marketing pretense our digital economy would lay in ruins of 404 Errors.
IT Resellers looking at digital signage need to embrace multi-vendor solutions, do diligent research and invest in product knowledge the same way they invested in Microsoft and other IT certifications.
Best solutions come from understanding the ecosystem of vendor offerings – even in cases of a vendor apparently offering the full gambit of solutions, it’s important to know alternatives and strengths of each vendor line.A great example is the Best Buy Mobile install pictured to the left here. Software is driven by Sony Ziris (strong content management and authoring tool for A-symmetrical screen layouts) and screens are Samsung 320mp (wider commercial display range and arguably more aggressive price points).
Obviously there is strong content element to this install, but the point is expressly illustrated.
In fairness, some IT resellers are embracing the investment and resources required to deploy good digital signage solutions. Unfortunately these represent a tiny portion of the market, mainly relegated to universities and corporate communications, where IT resellers are staple infrastructure providers and end-users are not picky about content. For the remainder: don’t drink the ‘turn-key’ kool-aid, treat digital signage with respect you gave to the IT certifications and invest in learning what makes up a ‘complete solution’.