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An Industry Stuck in the 80s

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I remember the 80s.

The 80s, as I remember, were amazing. I remember things like Super Mario Bros, Pac-Man, Reebok Pumps, and I also recall when Paula Abdul was cool. I remember the Casio C-80 calculator watch, Commodore data-cassette and the first mouse I ever had; Logitech C7. I remember sitting in front of TV for hours watching the Smurfs and watching Michael Jackson’s Thriller on a VCR. Do you remember those days?

I also remember digital signage from the 80s…
Well, it has not changed much since then, except for the number of pixels you get per inch! The digital signage industry suffers from the outdated hardware and management platforms which haven’t advanced much since the 80s. Even the prices are still as expensive as they were in the 80s!

The current state of Digital Signage deserves some pity. Many of the companies in the industry require their customers to buy the hardware from them. And the management application usually has the look and feel of a windows 3.1 application (That’s actually from the 90s, which is a step in the right direction I guess)! On top of that, the over crowded screens of widgets and options leave the consumers confused and frustrated. A study needs to be conducted to yield the percentage of customers who abandon their digital signage systems after making an investment!

Loading content isn’t easy either. The most common options are either through physically connecting to the device or by uploading the content using outdated protocols like FTP, which requires technical skills. Even here at CloudPixel, we were affected by these industry norms, that we ended up making some mistakes… But we’ve fixed that, and we continue to simplify our platform.

I’m glad to report that recently, some cloud-based digital signage platforms began to emerge. These new platforms are, rightfully, changing the entire industry. Among these emerging platforms some that are faster in finding ways to improve quicker than others and hence are able to provide their customers with greater value and earning a larger market share.

In her book “Get Bold”, Sandy Carter makes the argument that nimbleness is the most important factor influencing users adaptation. For a Digital Signage platform to achieve nimbleness it should possess the following 4 characteristics:

  • Deployment

    You shouldn’t be an IT professional to be able to install a digital sign. The solution you are deploying should be able to run on devices running different Operating Systems, such as Windows, OS X and even Linux. It should also be ready to run on mobile devices running iOS and Android. You should be able to use your own hardware, whether it’s a new computer you purchased specifically for the sign or an old computer that’s been sitting on a shelf for a while. Installing the application should also be seamless. The application shouldn’t require tons of plugins and components such as flash and Java to be able to run correctly.

  • Management

    Managing the devices (actual screens) and the content on them should be just as easy. Starting with adding the device to your account to grouping it with other devices to being able to publish the same content.
    Question: Who invented the split screen layout? Who thinks it’s cool? I have yet to meet a customer who’d asked me for it!! How about a full screen of content? Keep the focus on the content. Don’t confuse viewers with the other statics…

  • Content

    Content must be the most important component of any successful digital signage implementation. It doesn’t matter how much you have spent on the screens and the computers, if you have bad quality images or videos or no content at all (did I tell you the story about the company that owns 6 digital billboards in times square but had no content? That will be another blog post).

  • Value

    How much are you willing to invest into a digital sign? One easy way to figure this out is simply calculate the amount you spend annually to printing your signs, the price of shipping, installation, removal of old signs and recycling them. Then compare that to the price of a digital sign including the hardware.
    Is the platform charging you a flat fee? Is it based on usage? Daily, monthly? At this point it will be easy to see if you’re getting the right value out of your digital sign.

Expensive hardware but the application crashed causing the computer’s desktop to show on the screens. Because of the complexity of the platform it took the store days to fix

So even if you are like me and love the 80s, your digital signage deployment shouldn’t remind you of the 80s.

Check out our posts for more content tools and tips. If you’re looking to install a digital sign, or create engaging content, we can help!

If you like this post, share it with your friends and colleagues via email or on social media, and you’ll have my sincerest gratitude!

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Comments 7

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