As our digital connectedness continues to grow and become more complex, it is today’s imperative that organizations learn how to more efficiently and effectively create that connection with their customers. One of the most efficient ways to quickly and easily create that connection is through the use of digital signage. While eye-catching and informative to the end-user or consumer, it has not been the easiest technology to deploy and support.
Over the last 10 to 15 years, digital signage technology has matured rapidly from an expensive and confusing bundle of wires and devices to a self-contained, smaller footprint and easily supportable platform. In this article, we discuss the top six reasons to consider implementing today’s smart digital signage.
1. A Separate Media Player No Longer Required
Traditionally, media players connect to a display and send content via that connection. This setup requires a cradle and mount, as well as network and power connections and the player itself. Initially, these media players needed server-level devices to push the content to the display. Over time, the size of the device reduced to a PC and then to a mini-PC.
In 2013, Samsung became the first commercial display manufacturer to eliminate the separate media player with its SMART Signage Platform (SSP). This goal was accomplished through the System-on-Chip (SoC) display. With this pioneering technology, a traditional external media player is no longer required. Instead, the media player can be embedded in the device while providing the same level of horsepower and functionality.
Although there are projects in which a separate media player may still be advantageous, the SoC technology offers a variety of benefits. Namely, it allows for a smaller footprint and richer content which can be used in places that would traditionally be difficult or impossible to reach. With the SSP now entering its fifth generation, SoC-integrated displays cover the full spectrum of panel sizes, and across multiple series. Coupled with the defense-grade security platform used on Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones and tablets, Knox, ensures security from the hardware on up to the platform and application layers.
2. Ability to Create an Immersive Digital Experience
Another significant technology leap with smart digital signage is Samsung’s use of the Tizen operating system. Tizen is a cross-architecture, open-source software platform based on the Linux operating system that provides full compatibility with HTML5. Software developers working with Tizen generally say the gap is rapidly closing between the capabilities of SoC and PC based media players.
For improved customizability, partner software developers are now working with an operating system that offers more capabilities and is used for a wide variety of devices, from IoT sensors to smartphones and smart appliances. The switch by Samsung from a signage-specific operating system to Tizen has opened up new possibilities for the developer community. It has attracted web, mobile and device developers who already work with Tizen and can now branch into digital signage and interactive display applications, without needing to learn a new operating system.
With this evolution of content control, the possibilities are only limited by the developer community’s imaginations. You can provide customized and relevant content based on gender, age, ethnicity or some other demographic. Imagine being able to identify the type of car that is in the fast-food drive-through and present menu options that typically fit that specific demographic. The ability to dynamically create an immersive digital experience for the end-user in real-time is a game-changer.
3. Ability to Manage Displays Via Wireless & Cellular Connectivity
Historically, implementing digital signage required hardwired connectivity and navigating the IT infrastructure to connect them to the corporate network. This process was usually time-consuming and frustrating.
New technologies like 4g/5g cellular service are enhancing application possibilities. For instance, you can now install and manage digital signage systems that don’t solely rely on hardwired connections or direct corporate network connections. Additionally, you are not confined by the walls of your organization. By utilizing the cellular network and 4g/5g solution providers, you can mobilize your digital signage, placing it in locations not previously reached by the corporate network.
One such solution provider is Cradlepoint, who is the industry leader in cloud-delivered 4G LTE network solutions. They provide network management systems like their NetCloud Manager. This software allows you to rapidly deploy and dynamically manage networks at geographically distributed locations. Loading and managing applications are much easier and timelier as they do not have to be tested against the rest of the application layer in a corporate network.
4. Faster & Easier Deployment & Implementation
The cost and time required to properly deploy and implement your digital signage project can vary by size and scope. However, when deploying and implementing smart digital signage, the cost and time are incrementally reduced for the following reasons:
- Fewer prerequisite tasks to be completed before installation (e.g., install power, network connections, upgrade network switch for capacity, etc.).
- There is no need for pre-configuring or pre-loading content. With smart digital signage, once a network connection is established, the display is configured and the content is loaded.
- With fewer devices to install, there is less packaging to handle and clean up.
- The installation instructions are much shorter, which means a reduction in unsuccessful deployments.
- The overall time a Technician is on site is reduced. Not only is there a direct financial benefit, but the new signage is up and running quickly, and the Technician is out of the way in a much shorter time frame.
5. Reduced Number of Failure Points & Easier Support Model
With the elimination of the external media player, smart digital signage significantly reduces the number of cables and power connections required. In tandem, these are no longer failure points for the system. There is less peripheral equipment such as distribution amplifiers, line extenders, splitters, or HDMI over CAT5 equipment.
Traditionally, supporting digital signage has been a time consuming and costly endeavor. When there is a problem, a “truck roll” is typically required to place a trained Technician on site. The external media player usually needs a keyboard and mouse to reboot and requires someone with product knowledge to triage and troubleshoot.
With the smart digital signage technology, an end-user can easily reboot a smart display with the provided remote control. Not only does this reduce support costs, but limits the interruption of service to the end-users or consumers. This benefit is especially critical with 24 x 7 operations like hospitals, call centers, data centers, restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, and security services. Greater uptime of the system ensures that you are accomplishing the goals established as part of your digital signage strategy.
6. Reduces Requirements & Costs of Supporting Infrastructure
In The TCO Advantage of Smart Signage, author David Haynes outlines three use cases and derives the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for each. Based on conservative calculations across these three common or emerging scenarios, the study finds that using a smart signage solution can reduce the TCO over three years by as much as 41 percent when compared with traditional digital signage setups. The main reasons for this reduction in TCO include:
- Reduced labor costs and time for installation.
- Reduced hardware footprint.
- Reduced infrastructure network and power requirements.
- Reduced energy requirements and usage.
- Reduced downtime and support requirements—less “truck rolls.”
Once you’ve made the wise decision to implement smart digital signage, seek out a provider that can help you plan and properly execute your digital signage strategy. Look for a partner that embodies not just the entire lifecycle of product deployment, but also provides ongoing support and can easily help you with migration paths as technology and content needs change.
Premier providers, such as LSI Industries and their digital signage business unit, SOAR, help their customers achieve their digital signage strategy and derive the benefits of smart digital signage technology. Their “full-circle” support model includes the following:
- Site Survey
- Environment Integration Services
- System Design
- Hardware/Software Services
- In-House Content Creation & Management
- Training & Support
- Installation & Deployment
- Program Evaluation & Next Phase
Whether you use a digital signage provider, or you take this on in-house, there are many advantages to implementing today’s smart digital signage. Not only can it provide you with immediate savings and benefits, but it can also position you with the flexibility to evolve and grow your digital signage system over time.