As an enclosure manufacturing veteran from the digital signage industry (10 years in manufacturing, seven years in digital signage), I wish I had a dollar for every time a project has come to a grinding halt due to a lack of consideration of the many aspects involving the display.
Too often certain facets of the project are planned and over-planned, but when it comes time to put the plan into motion, there is a sudden realization that brings on a flood of questions.
As an enclosure manufacturer and participant in dozens of projects, ITSENCLOSURES has been called in at the 11th hour and asked to provide answers to some of these questions, particularly related to outdoor projects, with little, if any, budget left to work with. We have found more than one project dangling by a financial thread. This situation makes it difficult to find a solution that provides value but doesn’t cripple a customer’s budget.
Though few digital signage installations have the same requirements, here are 12 of the key physical design questions that should be addressed regarding the displays with the same level of attention as content software, player devices, IT infrastructure and support:
- “How much should I budget for my project?”
- “What should my timeframe be for completion?”
- “Who will be providing the displays? Player devices? Cabling/accessories?”
- “With whom do I coordinate with regarding logistics?”
- “Who will provide the specifications for installation?”
- “Whom do I contact regarding service issues?”
- “Who is responsible for construction issues (including, electric service, data cable, and construction of footers in outdoor applications)?”
- “How much maintenance will the solution need for smooth operation?”
- “How will displays be protected (outdoors)?”
- “Are the displays bright enough?”
- “How will the displays hang?”
- “Are they at the appropriate viewing angle?”
Working with a Vendor Partner
In my experience, end-users are generally well served to work with their vendor partners in uncovering overlooked needs hidden inside their digital signage projects. Digital signage responsibilities often fall to a wide variety of departments within end-user companies — IT, facilities, marketing, etc. — and often personnel do not have the breadth and depth of digital signage experience a vendor partner possesses. By working with one or more skilled digital signage vendors, an end-user can get several perspectives from which to work. For example, end-users should strongly consider consulting with different types of vendors, such as a content software provider, a display provider, media player manufacturer or protective hardware manufacturer. This approach will help ensure a much closer cost-to- budget figure and also the potential for a more functional, higher value digital signage solution.
While working with vendor partners, the end-user will most likely gain a valuable perspective on how to best suit their solution to the vendor’s skill set and vice versa. Often our company has end-users that come to us with a project and insist that their square peg fit into a round hole. What they don’t realize is that by working together, the end-user and vendor partner can design a high-value solution that fits a slightly shaved off square peg into the proper hole for maximum benefit to all involved. When planned properly this can often happen within a budget and timeframe that works. That’s cooperation at its best!
Because digital signage is such a new sector of the signage industry and many newcomers are still feeling their way, it is a good practice to get several points of view, regardless of your role in a project. This will allow you to see things from different perspectives as well as help improve the vendor partner’s contribution in terms of product recommendation, service offering or total solution to ensure the success of your installation. This certainly will bring greater value to the project, while helping improve ties for all involved with other professionals within the industry.
I have lost count of how many times I have gotten a call to work on a project from someone I never met before, but that individual knows a person on another project on which we worked and did a good job. Quite often, the best referrals are word of mouth as they are typically the most honest.
Karl Jackson is director of business development at ITSENCLOSURES, manufacturers of the ViewStation large format display enclosure solutions. Jackson has been with ITS for 10 years and has experience in more than 20 major digital signage projects. These projects include stadiums (Ohio State football, Beaver Stadium at Penn State, Citi-Field, Arrowhead Stadium), transportation (Virginia Railway Express, Metro North Railroad, Sky Train) and quick serve restaurants (Wendy’s, Dunkin Donuts, Burger King). For further information related to the content of this article, contact Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column was reprinted with permission from the Digital Signage Connection and originally appeared here.