Knowledge is powerful, not solely in the acquisition of information, but rather how and when it's used. A big problem in our industry is the lack of education available to the public. Most Digital Signage integrators and specialists acquired their information through trial/error, experience, and bits and pieces gathered on the long road to implementing solutions for their clients.
There is a change coming in the industry. I've noticed more and more vendors, manufacturers, and resellers are starting to realize the power and importance of educating the client base. In this case, there is no "too little too late." The more people who bring information and education as opposed to advertorials and edusales, the better. An educating buyer will see past the glitz and glamor and ask to see how the system really works as opposed to flashy pics and false promises.
I advise people to dig deeper when looking at solution and offers. Find out what's really being put on the table and what's being left out of view. Here are a few things to ask for with any system you're reviewing:
How scalable is the solution? When the system is in place and a client opts to grow that system to multiple displays and (more importantly) multiple sites, can they manage everything from a single interface? Can new systems and sites be easily added to the software/cloud solution?
When running the system, how much instruction is required to use the system? Is a higher level of expertise and experience required or can a new user get up and running with minimal training (an hour or less)? Does the system pass the 5min rule - from initial login, can a person create new content, schedule the content, and send the schedule to the displays within 5 minutes and minimal instruction/walkthrough? How intuitive is the system?
Based on experience and systems in place, what is the shortest and longest constant use/runtime of a system? How long have they had systems in place and what kind of "stress testing" has been done to ensure a system can operate under various conditions?
Every solution has a place. Few, if any, systems can solve all the clients' needs. Some systems require touch/interactive capability while other are primarily content distribution (limited scheduling and other features). Work with vendors to learn the most you can about the system features and what it can and can't do. If a vendor tells you their system can "do everything" be wary. Better a specialized solution than a "jack of all trades." A jack of all trades can do a lot of things to a small degree, whereas a more specialized solution has stronger features and options available.
The deeper you dig, the more you reveal and the better you and your clients can understand the solutions proposed. Don't take any one person or company's word on something - to offer solutions, you have to be able to figure out what the need is. The knowledge acquired now goes into the "toolbelt" and the more tools available, the easier and faster a need can be met, a problem solved.
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. Direct emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org for queries and/or assistance.