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For digital signage, operability should be the highest priority

A statement by Björn Christiansen, Managing Director of IAdea Germany

Schwentinental, 05.02.2018 - Digital signage is an extremely complex industry in which different players are often responsible for media players, displays, software, content, advertising circuits and installation. An increasingly difficult challenge for system houses, system integrators and companies. Inevitably, this clientele is therefore focusing more and more on the expected service quality than on the acquisition costs for the pure hardware when selecting a provider for the playback platform. A statement from Björn Christiansen, Managing Director of IAdea Germany, on the service-oriented approach to selecting a digital signage platform:

"The quality of a provider's service and support contributes significantly to reducing the uncertainty factors when purchasing a digital signage solution. After all, digital signage is no longer just the simple replacement of a poster with a fancy digital display in the shop window. Digital signage is becoming the "digital salesperson" in every color and industry, centrally controlled with diverse, individual and interactive content via the cloud. In addition, there are countless cloud-based services for attractive content or enterprise solutions for facility management up to complete conference room systems with video, audio and booking integration. Digital signage has almost no limits in its variety of applications. This is of course extremely interesting, but on the other hand it also shows how important service and support have become for the complex matter of digital signage.

For customer-focused companies, this is very good news. After all, there is no shortage of companies in the digital signage industry that come from the consumer goods sector and are looking for an opportunity to establish themselves as digital signage providers. What they often overlook is the amount of work that goes into developing custom solutions and implementing them appropriately. On one occasion, my team was a finalist for an RFP with a brand-name display manufacturer. The display manufacturer sent a device that resembled a tablet computer to compete against our IAdea 10-inch general purpose DigitalSignboard designed as a workplace conference room manager. Sure, in terms of hardware, the competitor's product had all the bells and whistles, such as programmable light bars, touchscreen, power-over-Ethernet, etc. Almost predictably, this competitor offered its device at a consumer price that made maintaining a support team impossible. At a certain point, it was quite disappointing to see the digital signage industry on the cusp of a price war.

All hope is not lost, however, as many end users will not compromise a sense of security for a few dollars. Other end users, on the other hand, may assume that such a price offer should not be turned down - but they should think again. When the system integrator requested development support from the vendor, he of course didn't get any. This integrator then contacted IAdea and received full software development and customization support from us. In the end, my team won the bid and helped make end users see the quality of support from the platform vendor as much more important to the success of a project than the purchase price and whether or not the vendor is a respected consumer electronics brand.

Each year, we ask our customers to rate us and share what they value most about us as their digital signage platform provider. At the top of the list of reasons our customers consistently choose us or move to us from a competitor is regularly our support efforts. Personally, I try to learn from business legends like Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Jeff Bezos (Amazon). That's because both are known for, among other things, personally taking frontline customer calls now and then.

As we enter 2018, our team is also focused on providing even better support. Our initiative to do this is called "IAdeaCare." The next-generation digital signage playback platform must be equipped with an intelligent nervous system that reduces the amount of service required in the field. Basic information and control flows are provided, and through APIs, third-party software can monitor the integrity of the system across the network. It's fairly predictable that intelligent and "self-recovering" services will help large-scale digital signage systems become much more robust and reliable than they are today.

So the next time you're faced with choosing a platform to build your digital signage network, I hope that system operability, where service and support are elemental components, will be a high priority in your considerations."

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