When planning for a Digital Signage network, your content strategy is of paramount importance.Content will determine and help navigate the early decisions in the planning process in areas like budget and overall strategy. Often times, the failure of a Digital Signage network is not the technical capabilities of the hardware or software, but the lack of content or understanding of how best to leverage the Digital Signage network to enhance your business. And that’s important. Buying is one thing, but implementing is another.
Understand what problems you are currently having that can be solved or helped by Digital Signage. For example, in a manufacturing plant would Digital Signage best work to communicate with your staff with success stories, company news, birthdays and human resource bulletins? Or maybe a health and safety platform that plays videos and keeps reminders of the importance of safety (and reducing accidents and claims along the way). Or maybe your business has a public surrounding, like a conference or large venue and people get lost? Maybe Wayfinding maps with animated paths are a better solution?
First decision before you ever speak with a Digital Signage company should be: "Why are we doing this and what problem is it helping address or solve in our business?" If you're not sure, find a Digital Signage company that offers professional services and can clearly consult and produce a business case for your specific company. For starters, envision how the content that would be displayed is actually solving the problem. Some cheesy safety video from 1992 might not create the desired result in employee behaviours. However, a collection of small animated short videos documenting the importance of safety shoes, following guidelines, and practicing good habits makes your staff more engaged. It definitely doesn't hurt to use humour and emotional images to connect with your audience when possible as well. To entertain is to inform is to engage.
Since this is the most important part of your Digital Signage network, you should pay most attention here. It is recommended that you consider hiring a consultant to help define this and clearly understand the benefits before allocating budget or choosing locations.
Once you have a good content strategy, you will need to consider the resource requirements within your own company. Often times, if you are not going to go with a managed network and your network is fairly large, you will need a dedicated person to look after the network from an administrative purpose as well as a content manager. If the network is locally hosted, it will require IT resources to build and maintain.
Are there any specific codes or policies that you need to meet? How about disability requirements?
Gather all these requirements and ensure that your Digital Signage provider is able to meet them.
Most Digital Signage providers have a subscription model using a cloud hosted system or a capital cost structure based on a local hosted system. It is important you understand the difference in these two options and understand if you would like most of the cost paid up front with small support fees on an ongoing basis or if you would prefer the cost spread out over a few years with little to no capital expense.
When selecting a Digital Signage provider, you will need to consider all of the steps above. There are a wide variety of Digital Signage providers and most will claim they are the best so you will need to consider the following points and judge for yourself:
Working with your selected Digital Signage provider, work out a 5 year plan for your network. Are you looking to build out the entire network at one time or in phases? Include your content strategy, your maintenance and support plan, your resource requirements etc.
Leverage the experience of the chosen vendor to establish a full plan before starting to build your network. Consider your entire network carefully for any potential issues like mounting in older buildings that may have asbestos or getting network coverage in remote areas. Your Digital Signage provider should be able to create a project plan with a risk profile and mitigation plans.