Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Digital Signage Need To Know: Test drive an LED Sign (aka EMC) BEFORE buying...

-Deacon Wardlow
When you're out buying a car, it's a good idea to test drive the vehicle. The problem with Digital Signage (DS) systems is we're asking clients to implicitly trust us and our experience over their doubts. We ask them to look at the car, but they can't take it out for a spin until they own it. No wonder people are nervous about making the investment with DS.

We can pull out specifications and numbers to compare systems, but for many people outside of the industry the numbers just confuse the issue. The biggest concerns a client typically has:

1. Support (both on software and hardware): 
Can the techs be reached easily? How supportive are the staff? Can the support team walk the client through issues quickly and simply? How is the company guaranteeing the 5 year parts warranty? If the company goes out of business, how can the customer be assured their on-site warranty will be provided and covered?

2. Reliability (in construction, performance, and current technology):
Is the system built to last and perform (at its best) for the projected lifetime? What things has the manufacturer done to ensure this and how can you demonstrate the manufacturer builds quality and uses the latest technology?

3. Ease of use:
If the system checks out, the display is reliable, the build takes advantage of current technology available (or possibly is pushing new technology), it comes down to use. If a system isn't easy to use, the content will suffer. The end user is often a member of an organization with about 1,000 other things to do aside from their digital signage system. The DS is important to the organization, but they need to take care of their core requirement first and DS sometimes takes a back seat. This is when we see that one message which sticks around for days if not weeks without a change and the DS becomes a background component as it's lost any interest. Follow the 5 minute rule.

My most basic test of a system is often the 5 minute rule. With the DS controls am I able to login, create content, schedule content, and logout in 5 minutes without jumping through hoops and with the content looking decent (if not good)? How easy and accessible is the control for the system? Another concern, am I locked-in to a single PC or can I use my phone, tablet, home PC or Mac to control the system. We live in an age of anytime, anywhere access and it's important to have that same access to the DS system. My next great idea may not be when I'm sitting at my desk. It'll likely come to me at home or when I'm out with a friend and I may want to take advantage of that idea then and there before it's lost. I could take a note, but why bother if I can login to the system remotely and update what I need at that moment.

When you're demonstrating a system, are you confident the solution your using can pass the 5 minute rule for the client? Could you hand them the controls, confident they can make a good piece of content quickly and easily and then schedule it without jumping through a lot of hoops or special training? Do they have options to set conditional messages (content which triggers when an event occurs, like a weather change or something tied-in to sales figures for a particular product their promoting)? 

If you don't feel confident letting the customer test drive the system, are you sure you're using the right solution? Take a test drive and make sure the ride isn't just good, but great. An investment with DS isn't short term (typically you're looking at up to ten years or more), it's important to make sure that ride is smooth and the experience is excellent.

*Please comment here and/or email me directly with requests, questions, or follow-up at deacon@vantageled.com. Vantage LED has white paper resources and more educational material on the website (http://www.vantageled.com), please check it out when you have a moment. Note all posts/thoughts/writings are strictly the viewpoint of me and me alone and do not reflect nor speak for Vantage LED’s beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically noted.

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