April 8, 2019
By Mark Mantha
In a $20-billion-plus global digital signage market, many companies have entered the fray based on client demands though their expertise may be founded in the audio visual (AV) or information technology (IT) world. With the current blurred lines of digital and AV, using a digital signage partner can expand the client experience and help an AV company become a full-service solutions provider.
“We do it all” is an expression often used by company heads in the AV/IT/digital space. This, however, is a recipe for disaster as most end users are skeptical of the all-in proposition. That said, these companies can still be the primary contact—knowing and explaining they are able to provide a range of services via their ecosystem of partners. This message makes the business, its expertise, and wisdom appear credible to the market, which adds to the company’s portfolio with outsourced experts.
At first glance, most AV and IT companies will deem they can easily add digital signage to their product suite. This becomes a challenge when the biggest component of digital signage defines the business case, the content strategy, and the goals and objectives of the network. Quickly, solution selling versus commodity-based selling takes hold and companies can end up looking silly at the undertaking. This is not about hanging and banging screens.
Successful digital signage providers like Dot2Dot Communications apply an elaborate 360-degree integrated approach with their clients, which includes:
Meeting with the client to identify the business objectives of their network and developing a suitable content strategy to achieve these goals.
Developing a network plan which includes the appropriate content management system (CMS), hardware, network infrastructure, content creation and management, and deployment and measurement.
Planning and executing full deployment of the network on a location-by-location basis.
Assessing the ongoing management and measurement of the network, and ensuring objectives are being met and the network is performing as desired.
Keeping the above approaches in mind, the six primary reasons why companies prefer digital signage outsourcing are outlined below:
The many components of digital signage, primarily the strategy component, suggest outsourcing is not for companies looking to sell hardware. The number of failed networks have repeatedly shown that end users require information and advice with their network from a business strategy perspective. In turn, they want the same company to do the heavy lifting once the objectives of the network are defined, articulated, and measured.
Understanding an audience, their behaviours, and the measures for success is not an exercise most AV companies would entertain; the ones that have, quickly understand the complexities of a successful deployment.
A report published on April 12 by the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) suggests Canada will need to fill approximately 216,000 technology-related positions by 2021, up from 2015 predictions of 182,000 by 2019.
Behind a successful digital signage deployment is a staff of content producers, network architects, design personnel, and IT. The larger a digital signage network gets, the more people are required to manage it; this staff needs to be highly skilled.
With this shortage looming in, end users must have faith their network is in the capable hands of a partner of their choice.
Many companies cannot afford to hire subject matter experts for digital signage. Here, the savings tied to payroll, corporate benefits, and training alone are substantial. Not only does the company save time and money on recruitment, but also increases its profit margin due to shorter overheads. Add to this customer support and network management costs and the numbers begin to quickly add up.
In a tight-knit marketplace, it is imperative to advertise that one’s company has a digital signage solution and yet focuses on its core competencies. Again, end users will look at this in the right light—the organization is aware of the market demands and has reacted appropriately with digital expertise. This can serve as a huge competitive advantage by transforming how organizations operate and making them more agile, efficient, and effective overall.
Perception plays a crucial role. How an organization differentiates itself versus the competition with its “message to the market” is often the biggest factor for its success.
First in, wins. Decreased speed to market gives the competition an upper hand even with an inferior product. In a world of “on demand,” companies and consumers want products and services “now” or in the shortest time frame possible.
Companies can often develop a reputation for their lack of speed to market—being “followers” instead of market leaders, which ultimately affects their bottom line. Working with the right digital signage partner can have a reverse effect and paint the business’ reputation in a positive light.
The market is predicted to surpass $30 billion by 2025. The next wave of competition and market entrants is right around the corner as Fortune 500 companies to self-employed individuals have a grasp at a piece of the pie.
The digital signage market is still fragmented when it comes to default organizations of choice and this, perhaps, will continue based on the sheer number of players.
Today, a large number of AV and IT companies are unaware their own legacy customers are talking about their digital needs behind their backs because they believe they have no solution to offer.
It has been observed that IT and AV companies are initially resistant to outsource to the digital signage market, but gradually develop a steady stream of interest and a model that flourishes and builds lasting, often two-way partnerships.
Done correctly, the AV company outsourcing its digital signage opportunities to a solutions provider can be a huge benefit to the same company and the AV leads they take on. This explains the blurred lines of AV and digital.
The two most important factors in the overall digital signage outsourcing equation are content build and technology. The custom creative (content) for any network must align with the goals and objectives of the network.
In the last few years, technology has become very innovative and expansive, but it has been seen that the wrong technology is often used based on the audience, environment, and objectives at hand. Technology options, though abundant, are confusing to most end users when it comes to the most effective application for “driving behaviour.” Interactivity has allowed for two-way communication with audiences, and the birth of artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) will only drive further consumer engagement. Companies putting together digital signage solutions must be technology-savvy to put forth the right mechanisms.
Connecting the dots between content strategy consultation, creative content development, solution design, procurement, integration, installation, remote management, and on-site field services is a winning proposition.
Managed media solutions, including hosting, content scheduling, software maintenance upgrades, and network management, demonstrate the complex pieces of successful digital signage deployments.
Trends suggest digital signage outsourcing will only continue to grow. Integrators from all industry segments will aim to add these products to their portfolio and ride the wave of a multi-billion dollar industry that continues to flourish.
When searching for a potential digital signage partner, it is important to look for a third-party solutions provider with an outstanding reputation, a track record of being highly flexible, and a history of successful digital signage deployments across many verticals. At the very least, turning to an outsourcer ensures a solid start, and often leads to a long and fruitful relationship.
The following is a report gathered from 464 end users across multiple verticals, including schools, retailers, and restaurants based on how they are using digital signage and their plans for the future.
The data reveals end users across the board have already deployed digital signage or plan to deploy additional digital signage in 2019. It also suggests:
• 54 per cent of restaurants plan to deploy digital signage to more locations;
• 40 per cent of retailers plan to deploy digital signage in the future;
• 63 per cent of banks have deployed digital signage or plan to deploy it; and
• 69 per cent of end users plan to deploy more displays in 2019.
Mark Mantha, president of Man-Mac Consulting Inc., provides market development consulting for Dot2Dot Communications, a full-service visual communications company that designs, develops, and manages immersive digital signage experiences. He can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com. For more, visit www.dot2dotcommunications.com.
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