Category Archives: IT

Digital signage solutions and information for IT. including software and hardware companies

Why Retrofitting Digital Signage Saves Big Money

We come across a fair number of customers who already have some kind of electronic LCD’s or Televisions installed in their business. Maybe they use them for information, maybe they use them for entertainment. Either way, at some point, they realized or decided that enhancing the screen into Digital Signage made better business sense than how they are currently being used.

banking

 Banks, Retailers, Hospitals, Schools and Plants are prime locations where TV’s can easily be converted. 

This article is designed to advise such customers who have already invested in some type of LCD or TV screen in the past, that the option to simply retrofit might be a huge savings winner and really help accelerate your company ROI  around Digital Signage.

But first, let’s set the context on why this makes sense.

Business Case:

Most Enterprise and reliable Digital Signage involves three (3) components:

1) Software

2) Hardware

3) Set-Up, Support and Updates

Step 3 is more of a formality and is often blended into the License cost of the software or some professional services fee. But looking at Step 1, we explore the Software; most often represented “as a service”. You purchase or acquire a license to the software which might include some kind of Support, Updates, Hosting and Program Access. In Digital Signage, this is a per unit cost (unit referring to a Media Player / small Pc). Costs can range from .50 cents a day per player up to $4.00.

Next up is Step 2, the Hardware. Once you find a software that you like, feel comfortable with and matches your business goals, it becomes time to look at the capital part of the project. Hardware for Digital Signage usually involves an LCD/LED Screen, a small PC (Media Player in the industry) and some kind of mounting structure (like wall or ceiling). The whole purpose of this article was to demonstrate an excellent way to cut costs in hardware while upgrading or implementing very functional software. Here’s how:

Most Digital Signage companies (at least the top 50 in the world) all have a certain media player they standardize on. It’s been tried and tested. Think of it like car manufacturers. Jaguar doesn’t use Toyota engines and Ford doesn’t use Volkswagen. But they all might have a V6, so the engines are similar. It’s the same for Media Players in the Digital Signage industry. It’s recommended to just stick with what your provider suggests (as long as it’s under $500 USD.. but that’s another Blog!).

That leaves your screen and your mount. In many cases, a customer might have installed a screen in the last 4-5 years. In many cases, the screens have not been overused. They might look a little dated, but otherwise turn on and off perfectly. And that brings us to the heart of the matter. When your company is looking to move forward with Digital Signage, do your best to try and save any existing screens you might have. Don’t be fooled. As long as the TV has an HDMI input and is 1080P,  it should handle any media player that you throw on the back or slide in. The screen itself is usually the highest single item cost, and if the company ego can squeeze a couple more years out of existing screens, you create a real ROI case for yourself.

If you’re not sure about your screen, you have two options: either get a chair and look behind (or take a pic of the model # and google it, or ask a service provider or vendor to make a recommendation.

Obviously any vendor would like to increase the sale with additional hardware and thousands in tv costs. But most software vendors focus on the software, and will (or should) be doing their best to make what you have work. And then, you have the option of replacing screens either as they die, or in small batch sections (either based on geography or department).

In the case of L Squared, we often ship the media players out, have our install team retrofit them to existing screens, connect to the network and are off and running in no time.

If you are not sure how to proceed, or if what advise you should be getting, please reach out to an L Squared rep and one of our Project Managers will always spare a few minutes to discuss anything on your mind.

Stay tuned for our next blog on: How long should I plan before making a decision!

Sales@lsquared.com or Bnacu@lsquared,com

 

How Digital Signage makes a HUGE difference in Business

As a global Digital Signage company, we have a number of large, commercial B2B clients across the globe. For years, they have spent time and energy looking to improve results in almost any area of the business.  In recent years, the focus has been particularly around employee behaviours and communications.

It was too easy to see that Digital Screens made a tremendous impact on customers in public settings. But stakeholders needed to break new ground through internal optimization as well, no matter what industry they happended to be in. Whether it was healthcare, education or just good ole manufacturing, the questions were the same:

 How do you engage non-salaried or low-salaried staff to love their job, believe in the company vision and bring their best on a consistent basis. Tall order?

Well, modern business practices don’t think so.

HR Image

TOP 5 Reasons Digital Signage makes a Difference: 

The consistency in the conversation is not limited to any one industry sector. It exists as much in retail and education as it does in corporate and manufacturing. Here is a list of top 5 differences Digital Signage can make and comments from leading Senior Executives:

1) Control Content from any desk or computer

That means you no longer need to overstress on creating, printing and distributing company news to multiple locations on multiple occasions. HR, Operations or Marketing can manage screens from their office or from home. Not to mention it free’s up valuable walk time (up to 80 hrs. / year per person in some companies). Especially with reporting documentation.

2) Employees have moved past the Paper World

Whether we like it or not, technology is the dominating source of most of our information. Using smartphones, computers and social media has shifted how we consume information for ever. You were thinking of printing the latest production reports or benefits changes? Think Again… Digital Signage makes the access and enablement of information a Digital Experience that can traverse social, mobile, email and on-site communications.

3) Get everyone in on the Action

Digital Signage isn’t restricted to HR or just Marketing. The software can be learned and controlled by multiple departments and almost any employee. In fact, we have 100 million dollar customers where the Front Reception is the content / schedule manager. We also have customers where the Operations, HR, and Safety staff use the same program to run different screens with different messages. What you see in the Hospital Employee lounge might be be very different from the Shop Floor or the School Corridor.

4) Real Time Updates 

No matter how trendy or over-used the word “real-time” is, it doesn’t change the fact that in business, real-time information is very important. The ability to display reports from any department, process or 3rd party software (in most cases) is invaluable. Whether it’s local weather or an ERP production, error or waste report, Digital Signage is a live, connected and reliable method for the basis of all future employee communications.

5) Dynamic Content makes a difference 

No matter how you slice it, the human eye is attracted to movement and creativity. Instead of simply printing or using a USB with 40 pages of power points, let Digital Signage break up a Screen into multiple sections (frames) with content for everyone. Some staff love the news, while others are more process oriented. Sometimes, a benefit change or HR BBQ can make the world of difference. Also, it never hurts to throw in live videos, humour and internal content from your own teams.

In the end, Digital Signage is the internal corporate reflection of how you operate as a business. It’s a powerful extension of your processes and culture. Use it to be machine that drives ambition, motivates the team, and engages the challenging.

For more info on Digital Signage, see this easy to understand video below:

How Digital Signage Works

 Contact our Sales team for any demo’s, RFP’s or Proposals or suggestions on how to create a great program without breaking the bank.

Sales@Lsquared.com

Digital Signage Gives HR Powerful New Options

signmen1038

HR and People Management is a vital function in most organizations. To make the HR department effective, the task of finding innovative ways of being able to connect, engage, influence and support staff is tougher than ever.

Large industries and their sub-sectors such as Manufacturing, Retail and Wholesale  have staff members who are paid on hourly basis, and it is essential that important details are circulated through effective communication.

This has historically been very difficult for HR professionals to achieve.

Although, sticking important printouts on notice boards and using wall posters have helped these professionals in a prominent way, the task of effective communication has become more challenging, especially in industries where new labor gets added on a regular basis/companies with a high ‘churn’.

That’s where L Squared Digital Signage’s solutons for HR comes in. Check out our services for HR, read our latest posts for HR pros and contact us to learn more.

 

What Every College CIO Should know about Digital Signage Part #3

When deciding on Digital Signage for your school, there are a few key points every CIO should know before making decisions. Whether you have an existing Digital Signage network or not, these points will ensure you’re fully informed and help avoid any pitfalls that previous CIO’s have shared with us. After Reading Tips #1 and #2, our final part in this series is below:

CIO Tip #3

Workflow Permissions and a Security or Audit Log.

When a School takes on or upgrades Digital Signage it is usually under the guise and approval of the CIO or IT leadership team. The extreme irony of this is the amount of day to day usage the IT team actually engages in the operation of Digital Signage. Usually little or none!

After the procurement approval process is completed, the entire program shifts towards the day to day users (departments, students, groups, communications team, etc..). However, from a technical perspective it is always necessary to keep the CIO / IT team onboard as the “Super Admin” in the case everyone forgets what they’re doing or for internal troubleshooting. However, it’s also important to note that no CIO or management team wants to have a student group with full access to all areas of the software.  So creating or having permissions from the onset is a great tool in setting up structure and ensuring your school protocol is followed.

For example, there is a “Device Management” section in many Digital Signage softwares. As new devices are added or removed to the school network, your in-house graphic designer might not need to see or access the MAC addresses or worry about the Wi-Fi Keys. The same goes for creating new users or roles. Other than a small, core group of “Admin” users, the creation of new roles within an application should be left to the experts. The CIO and IT team can always keep a pulse on the Signage Program, but don’t need to be overseeing day to day operations. However if there is an issue in content being displayed that was inappropriate or concerning to School management,the CIO might be the one to get the first call. What can be done to help prevent mistakes, misunderstandings or pranks?

Many CIO’s ask: What is the best way for IT to manage a system that that doesn’t really need to be managed? Well the answer to this conundrum lies in the heart of Workflow Permissions and a back-up Security Audit Log for good measure.

Workflow Permissions and Approvals is a feature set inside Digital Signage that allows users to create a tiered, or restricted workflow process. Simply put, Workflow Permissions allow the “Super Admin” team to decide who and how much access users get. If “Amanda” is on the Student Council and does some great design work, she should have access to the Content Library to store her work. However, maybe she designs “Sensitive” or provocative style themes in her designs and to avoid any on-campus issues, it is decided that Amanda’s work cannot be scheduled until a supervisor or administrator has approved it. The same could be said for the Communications Team. The might have been given full access to uploading and approving content and schedules, but maybe that is all the access they need.

The other feature sets in Digital Signage software can include Users, Devices and Frame Layouts. But these additional features can end up being too distracting or overwhelming for basic users. So the CIO and IT Team are able to restrict the access any unique user has through several methods. One method, is by creating a user and defining their role. An example of this is being a “Content Executive” versus a “Content Manager.” Everything is the same between the roles except final approvals. The Manager gets the final say.  Another way of restricting workflow is by creating groups that can only access certain folders of content. Or another way would be in assigning certain frame layouts to only a certain group of users. A great example of this is delegating a side frame layout on your screen (say 580p wide x 720p height) to only one group, say the Student Union. The group wouldn’t be able to access any other frame on the screen. But their specific frame is large enough to hold PDF’s, Word Docs, posters or videos without having the group access other frames or other frame content.

The final back-up measure to making sure there is accountability and transparency in  your Digital Signage program is having an Audit Log. Something easy to access but reliable. The CIO should be able to login, quickly review the dashboard (online devices and utilization) and glance quickly at the audit log. Every time and User who logged in and the action they performed. Download the log if necessary, but the IT or Support team can always track the actions and help troubleshoot as required.

For more information on how Digital Signage impacts Education and improves the morale and culture on Campus please scan our blog for Education titles or contact an L Squared Rep for information.

Thanks,

Brent Nacu

What Every College CIO Should Know about Digital Signage Part # 2

When deciding on Digital Signage for your school, there are a few key points every CIO should know before making decisions. Whether you have an existing Digital Signage network or not, these points will ensure you’re fully informed and help avoid any pitfalls that previous CIO’s have shared with us. After Reading Tip #1, here is the must know Tip #2.

CIO Tip #2 

Make sure that Emergency Messaging OR Integration with your Mass Notification System is possible and not overly expensive. In the Education sector, Digital Signage is both a sustainable and valuable communication tool. However, behind the glamour of Student Union campaigns, Weekly Schedules  and Improved Culture on campus, there is a very real need for your Digital Signage to be part of your Mass Notification or Emergency Messaging Program . With solutions like Alertus, E2Campus or Informacast on the market (and many others) , make sure to ask your Digital Signage provider about integrations (API, Web, etc..) and the cost related to making sure your Digital Signage LCD screens can be incorporated.

Integration with Digital Signage shouldn’t break the bank, so be comfortable to ask your Sales Rep about the specific process. A workflow diagram should help you get an idea if your provider is up to the task.

Depending on the size of your School you may already have some kind of independent Emergency Messaging or Mass Notification software running.  The difference between the two is simply that Mass Notification Software is designed to hit multiple devices or platforms (SMS, Desktops, Speakers, VoIP phones, etc..) while Emergency Messaging Software is designed to provide an override function and Emergency interruption with pre-scheduled messages. The differences in both are closer than ever, with the merging of technologies and cross-marketing to the same customer groups.

From a Digital Signage perspective, consider if you already have a Mass Notification Software and can it integrate into a potential Digital Screen Network. If you don’t have any Mass or Emergency Notification Software yet, maybe there is a reason. A lack of funding, resources or just the right timing. In that case, some Digital Signage software have built in Emergency Messaging as a feature that can save your College thou$ands a year and be an immediate short term solution. Many schools in 2015 are in the middle of upgrading or switching form outdated software they have been using since 2011 or earlier. Be sure to to speak with an L Squared Rep about what other schools in North America are doing and what solution will be best for you.

 

Stay Tuned for Part #3, Security Logs and Workflow Permissions – The secret to Digital Signage delegation!

Thanks,

Brent Nacu

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What Every College CIO should know about Digital Signage Part #1

When deciding on Digital Signage for your school, there are a few key points every CIO should know before making decisions. Whether you have an existing Digital Signage network or not, these points will ensure you’re fully informed and help avoid any pitfalls that previous CIO’s have shared with us.

Ironically, CIO’s and related IT staff are often involved in procurement decisions and evaluation for Digital Signage, but should never be considered as part of the day to day end user group. We have met with, interviewed and work with dozens of CIO’s whose teams oversee applications and here is their feedback on managing Digital Signage with success:

CIO TIP #1:

Look for a clean UI and easy to learn operational layout. As time goes by, so do the Digital Signage users in your school. Security officers change, Student Council officers graduate and Communications team members shuffle. IT does not want to be constantly re-training and handling tech questions which come from your non-technical people that are overwhelmed as new users. The solution to this issue is to make sure that the overall look and feel are complimentary to non-tech, day to day users so internal training can happen easily between existing users and their replacements. Our average School has 10-20 regular users including students, staff, graphic designers and internal departments. Make sure your provider has online access or support that can deal directly with your users as well, not burdening IT with basic app questions.

The easiest way to evaluate the UI is based on the learning curve. For starters, go with your gut instinct on first impressions. After 10 minutes, if a demo or trial is making you think too hard, imagine the impact on basic or first time non-IT users. Second, evaluate your visual impression of the GUI. Was, or is it “easy on the eyes”? Were you able to grasp the fundamentals and orient yourself in a quick period of time? Surprisingly this was one of the top criteria that helped reinforce decision making.

When the CIO liked what they saw, it was often the direction they went. And lastly, a really great feature to look for is the ability to segregate or “simplify” the UI. Some Digital Signage software lets you restrict permissions (Tip #3), but in doing so can actually remove sections of the UI so non-accessed users don’t need to be overwhelmed or confused.

Stay Tuned for Tip #2 – What Every College CIO needs to know– Emergency Messaging – coming January 9th!

Thanks,

Brent Nacu

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The L Squared Winter Digital Signage Sale Bonanza

Get Up To 50% Off Selected Digital Signage Products And Services

Contact L Squared

The holidays are coming and L Squared has amazing special festive offers on selected screens and digital signage content management software licenses.*

Complete the form below, by December 31 to secure the best Digital Signage rates in North America!!!

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* Limited time offer. Offer ends 31st December 2014. Promotions and discounts offered at the discretion of L Squared Digital Signage. Contact sales@lsquared.com for more details.

 

 

Top 10 IT Jobs in 2015

2015’s Top 10 Most Sought After IT Related Jobs

Are you an IT decision maker looking to understand more about current trends and future shifts in the sector? Perhaps you’re in a related field and want to understand if your skills will be in demand in the coming year?

Flagship IT and Operations publication Computerworld recently released their 2015 Forecast survey. The poll gives the low down on priorities and shifts within the IT sector and related job markets for the coming 12 months.

Here’s a look at the 10 IT skills that the 194 IT executives who responded to our survey said will be most in demand heading into 2015.

 

1. Programming/application development

 

  • 48% of respondents said they plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
  • Last year’s ranking: No. 1

 

As was the case last year and the year before that, IT departments are more likely to have job openings for programmers and developers than for any other position.

 

2. Project management

 

  • 35% of respondents said they plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
  • Last year’s ranking: No. 5

 

Demand for project managers jumped four spots up the list this year, and that doesn’t surprise Leon Kappelman, lead researcher for the Society for Information Management’s (SIM) IT Trends Study.

 

3. Help desk/technical support

 

  • 30% of respondents said they plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
  • Last year’s ranking: No. 2

 

IT leaders say they still have a growing need for help desk and technical support staffers because ongoing projects expand the list of devices and applications that their departments must support.

 

4. Security/compliance governance

 

  • 28% of respondents said they plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
  • Last year’s ranking: No. 7

 

Executives and board members are willing to spend more money on security because security breaches are making headlines these days. SIM’s research shows that IT departments are beefing up their security ranks; security ranked seventh on the organization’s list of most significant IT investments for 2014.

 

5. Web development

 

  • 28% of respondents said they plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
  • Last year’s ranking: Not ranked

 

Matt Leighton, director of recruitment at Mondo, a tech staffing agency, says that Web development expertise is one of the hardest skill sets to find. “The influx of demand has not been met with the talent readily available — there is a gap in terms of what the companies want to do and the talent that is out there to execute these initiatives,” he says.

 

6. Database administration

 

  • 26% of respondents said they plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
  • Last year’s ranking: No. 6

 

Database administration is a tried-and-true IT role — one that’s always needed in any organization. But the buzz around big data is what’s driving much of today’s demand for people with this skill. “You’ve got the ability to crunch massive amounts of data, but you still need to understand how your database has been put together,” says Terry Erdle, executive vice president for certifications and learning at CompTIA, a wireless industry trade group.

 

7. Business intelligence/analytics

 

  • 24% of respondents said they plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
  • Last year’s ranking: No. 8

 

Respondents to the Computerworld Forecast survey who said they plan to add IT positions in the next 12 months listed BI/analytics expertise as the skill set they expect to have the hardest time finding.

 

8. Mobile applications and device management

 

  • 24% of respondents said they plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
  • Last year’s ranking: No. 4

 

IT executives are trying to keep up with demand for mobile apps from employees who bring their own devices to work. This has seen a trend of hiring new people and training existing staff members who are interested in learning about mobile app development and device management.

 

9. Networking

 

  • 22% of respondents said they plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
  • Last year’s ranking: No. 3

 

According to the recent Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Forecast and Local Trend Report, 57% of U.S. technology executives said network administration tops the list of skills needed in their organizations.

 

10. Big data

 

  • 20% of respondents said they plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
  • Last year’s ranking: No. 11

 

In its September 2014 report titled “Fastest-Growing Tech Skills,”Dice reported that the number of postings related to big data on its IT jobs site grew 56% year over year. Moreover, the company noted that demand for big data expertise cuts across a number of industries, helping to boost not only demand for people with the right skills, but pay as well. “Data balloons every day, and therefore the amount of information we need to sift through to get at the real nuggets of value is exponentially bigger than it was a year ago,” says HMS’s Nustad. “And the executive team’s awareness that the data brings value has created this surge in demand.”

 

Computerworld Survey Offers Glance at 2015 IT Job Market

Computerworld’s recently released 2015 Forecast survey has offered key insights into the priorities and shifts within the IT sector and related job markets for the coming 12 months.

The poll asked 194 top IT executives across the USA about their strategic plans and expectations for 2015.

24% of the respondents said that their companies plan to add more IT employees in the year ahead. While down from 32% and 33% in the previous two years, the fact that a number of employers still anticipate growth indicates that the prospects for expansion in the IT ranks are good.

The types of technical skills in high demand are those needed for enterprises in expansion mode, suggesting that organizations are continuing to invest in their IT infrastructures.

“There are large initiatives [underway], and you have to have the people to get those done,” says Jason Hayman, market research manager at TEKsystems, an IT staffing and consulting firm.

Good IT Professionals in USA are Hard to Recruit

The unemployment rate for IT professionals was just under 3% in September, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And given that figure, many CIOs say they realize that finding talent will be a tough and time-consuming endeavor.

As enterprise vice president and CIO at HMS, Nustad is trying to fill a number of positions – including a Project Manager and Enterprise Architects. She says she has expanded the search nationwide, but it’s still taking months to find people for some positions.

“Our access to free-agent talent, it just doesn’t exist,” she says. “You’re gently poaching from others, and protecting your turf.”

According to Robert Half Technology’s Hiring Index survey, 61% of CIOs believe it’s very or somewhat challenging to find skilled IT professionals. The CIOs also reported that they expect to encounter the most difficulty filling positions in application development, networking and security. “There is certainly a supply-demand imbalance in some IT specialties,” says RHT executive director John Reed.

Hiring Important but Not a Priority

On the other hand, when asked about business priorities for the coming 12 months, only 20% of the respondents to Computerworld’s 2015 Forecast survey said that they consider attracting new talent a business priority. It ranked 10th on a list of 11 priorities for the upcoming year.

Some recruiters suggest that many hiring managers may be stuck in a recession-era mindset, thinking that experienced talent is easier to come by than it really is.

Read the full findings in itnews.com

Digital Screen Opertaions: Work Flow Control with Approvals

Using the built in approval system and the role based security feature, an administrator can setup a work flow system where a content manager can upload content that requires a scheduler to approve and schedule and an administrator to approve the schedule before it goes live on the screens.

Approval system in conjunction with role based security and group based permissions is a powerful control mechanism in the L Squared Hub.