Not surprisingly lots of comments and feedback † on our ‘Top 30 Digital Signage Software Vendors ‘ post which we wrote a few months back in preparation for our next #DSTop10  which will be announced this Friday.
A lot has happened in the last 12 months and we (like many) have been taking a much wider look at the digital signage software industry. There are of course (still) far too many software products on the market and far too many new entrants, Few, if any of them truly offer anything unique or exceptional and we find it especially difficult to understand why new entrants come to market without actually offering anything new.
With so many products in the marketplace how the hell do you decide which one to go with? How do you distinguish one from another? We put the #DSTop10 together back in 2008 to help and subsequently created a Top 30 to help further  still.
The point with our #DSTop10 is that we would do business with anyone on that list (we don’t take commissions on deals by the way) BUT not surprisingly in our position in the industry we are always asked “who would you recommend for such and such a project?”.
Therefore,. ahead of Friday’s official #DSTop10 let’s have a look at the sort of questions we are frequently asked. In no particular order…
- Q. I am putting together an RFP which vendors should I include?
A. That depends on what sort of vertical you are interested in and what geography you want to cover. The first name we would put down for any RFP would be Scala, other names depend on vertical and geography but we’d always have at least two or three vendors from our #DSTop10 in the RFP process
- Q. I’m building a video wall who should I talk to?
A. C-nario  and YCD Multimedia are probably your best bet for a conventional video wall. If you want an innovative approach to building a videowall (and you want to throw an awful lot of pixels at it) then take a look at Hiperwall . If money is no object and your video wall is particularly mission critical then take a look at Christie’s Vista Spyder product
- Q. In the OOH space what’s the best product for lots of Digital Billboards?
A. We always suggest going with folks who have good examples and a long history of working in the vertical you are looking at so Dynamax  would be the first people we’d look at (they have been running the once groundbreaking Transvision screens for years and years) and still have huge market share with the likes of Clear Channel. However Scala run much of Lamar and BroadSign  have recently won the JCDecaux business so you need to look at both of these as well. Mind you, you need to ask yourself the question “are you looking for some simple software to run a billboard or ERP software to manage all of your billboard inventory’. If you are a big OOH player it’s probably the latter and you should look at what Ayuda Media Systems offer or what a Key Systems  / signagelive combination (like Primesight seem to be using at the moment) could do for you.
- Q. I’m look at the Casino marketplace who should I talk to?
A. A few years ago you would have had the choice of many but these days it’s down to just a handful. Whilst Scala and CoolSign are still in some Casinos it’s a straight choice we think between Four Winds Interactive  and Bally Technologies and we’d plump for FWI every day of the week.
- Q. I am looking for a serious Retail Merchandising system which encompasses menu boards and window store fronts.
A. The best retail merchandising platform we have seen by far is YCD Multimedia’s RAMP system. However, ‘retail’ is also something of an area of expertise for EnQii (and their product is getting better, especially with their recent announcements ) so we’d suggest taking a look at them. If Real Digital Media  ever get to announce their Subway deal  we’d probably include them as well – Subway did not choose them for nothing!
- Q. I need music
A. YCD Multimedia were in our #DSTop10 back in 2008 precisely because they were one of the only vendors to truly support music (we are not just talking about MP3 playback here – it’s much more complicated than that) but then they lost focus and we dropped ’em. These days if you want music then it’s back to YCD Multimedia or EnQii with their Engage product  (why else do you think they are the last two remaining vendors in the H&M RFP process ). However and we’d be the first to admit it, here’s where our #DSTop10 can fall down – if you want music then you’d be silly not to look at the likes of Mood Media as a one-stop solution
- Q. I run a National Lottery what do I need to look at?††
A. POPAI in the UK are consulting with the Irish Lottery at the present time for just such a system but there’s actually NOT much work to be done. The likes of GTECH  run national lotteries the world over (together with NCR) but against them we’d definitely throw into the mix Amscreen  (again this throws our #DSTop10 out a little as Amscreen of course would not feature in that) and if the vendor wanted to have more control over a solution and build it themselves, Scala (who should be on every RFP as mentioned earlier), EnQii who could white label the whole thing for you as well or signagelive (who have experience with the original Camelot system in the UK).
- Q. I need interactivity via touch screens
A. Scala do offer more interactivity than most people realise but we’ve played with a number of kiosk type systems and by far our favourite is WireSpring . It win’s hands down on functionality and ease of use.
Anyway we hope that folks will see that our #DSTop10 is just one way to slice and dice the vendors and of course gives people our personal take on who’s hot and who’s not. Watch this space Friday.
†A special thanks to those who gave their feedback openly – hiding comments under a cloak of anonymity doesn’t (we believe) help anyone (especially if you expect a reply from our editorial team).
†† Okay we made this question up!!