Digital signage has come a long way from the days of DVD players and USB sticks to a highly-connected platform that enables intelligent applications across every aspect of our lives. As digital signage evolves into a mainstream industry, when selecting a vendor for the playback platform, many system integrators value the quality of service they would receive more than the up-front cost of the hardware. This is encouraging news for companies who put customers first.
Legendary business leaders like Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos are known for personally taking first-line support calls from time to time, so they could understand their customers. I put myself in my company’s support mailing list, so I am among the first to know how each of our customer is supported. I receive emails after work hours all the time coming from our support staff.
Those experiences taught me lessons that may be valuable to your digital signage business, as well.
Our industry is steadily confronted with competition from companies coming out of the consumer product space, looking for a chance to also establish themselves as digital signage vendors. They often overlook the workload involved in providing adequate customization and development support to meet the very different demands of digital signage, and just compete on price.
Here’s a real-world example: We were competing for a deal for meeting room signs – little displays and the management tools behind them that would be fixed just outside meeting and conference rooms. We had a business-grade interactive signboard, while the consumer guys were pushing a consumer tablet.
We couldn’t compete on price. If the consumer guys wanted the deal badly enough to crack the signage space, they’d surrender margin and profit to get it. But we won the deal – because the system integrator asked for development support from the consumer vendor, and got none.
Smart, experienced integrators and end-user customers understand full support on software development and customization is far more critical to the success of a project than the up-front price tag, and whether or not the provider is a well-known consumer electronics brand.
In an industry as complex as digital signage – often involving different parties, each responsible for player, display, software, content, ad sales, and installation – the quality of support service significantly helps reduce uncertainty, and puts projects on the path to success.
The other key, beyond good support, is leveraging the digital toolsets that are transforming this business, and technology in general.
In our case, the now-wide availability and use of APIs allows third-party software to fully be aware of the health across an entire digital signage network. It’s possible to develop and deploy an intelligent nervous system across a signage network that reduces the service work needed in the field. We called our initiative IAdeaCare, but it is the sort of mindset and technology approach any vendor or end-user should adopt to optimize a network.
Given all the advances happening with technology – with things like sensors and machine-learning – It is quite foreseeable that intelligent and “self-healing” services will make digital signage deployments far more robust and reliable than they are today.
The next time you choose a platform to build your digital signage network, make serviceability of the system a high-priority item on your evaluation checklist.