The term “solution” is one that gets tossed around a little too easily nowadays. In math, the solution is the answer; it is black and white with no grey area. So why is it that when it comes to consumer goods and services, this is not the case? In a lot of circumstances, the actual solution is nothing but a state that has become more and more nebulous. I remember when I bought a CRM solution for our business. I was shown all the bells and whistles and was convinced that what I was buying would help grow our business and take it to the next level (Digital Menu Boards: The Message is (NOT) Clear – see #3). As it turned out, it handled the sales and business development side of our business just fine, but fell short in all other areas of our operations.
In speaking about digital menu board or digital signage solutions, the gap of grey area continues to widen with more and more sellers in the market. Every Tom, Dick and Harry is selling themselves and their software or media player, etc. as a solution. In actuality, a true solution is typically comprised of a combination of these items.
For the purpose of this blog, I want to focus on “solution” as a general term. In addition, I would like to make it as straightforward as possible. Now some of you reading this may have already heard me say this, but there are two areas of digital signage that are a must for it to be considered a true “solution.” Further, these two factors must be under one umbrella. The problem – and one that leaves many consumers with buyers remorse - is that they are lead to believe that they have the capabilities of both when, in fact, the user ability is either limited or non-existent for one or the other. The two areas I am referring to are (1) Content Management and (2) File Management. Both carry several sub-sections beneath them but I will simply focus on the broad strokes of each.
#1 – Content Management
Content Management addresses the following four areas:
1) Where am I going to get my designs from?
2) When I want to update/change my items and pricing, how do I do it?
3) When I want to completely revamp my look, how is that accomplished?
4) How do I access or upload new media items and how are they stored?
The good digital signage companies have software that allows you to easily manage all of these areas. The average digital signage companies provide templates that you can swap pictures and media items in and out and change items and pricing with relatively no problems. The shortcomings typically arise when pictures and text characters exceed the predefined space. The bad digital signage solutions do all of this outside of the software, leaving you at the mercy of their availability and responsiveness to make any sort of changes.
#2 – File Management
Now that you have the content, the file management is the ability to display it when and how you want it to on the screens. Some of you may be thinking that this is a function of the media player. You are half right. Media players are the engines that drive the images on to the screen. In a lot of instances (MVix comes to mind) they come with a software component that allows for scheduling. This is a classic example where they only have one of the two parts (file management) that make up a true solution. However, they will offer design services that will get you up and running. Oh shoot, you want to change the look because the current PPT that they put together isn’t cutting it? Well, you are going to have to open up your wallet again for new designs. Starting to get it?
Consider, for a moment, file management in the light of iTunes. You can download music (media items), set them up in a library and create a playlist for you to listen to when you want to. Heck you could even have a band write a song that you love and then record it so you can download it to play. What happens when the playlist isn’t cutting it anymore? What do you do when you are sick of that song that was created “custom” for you? At least in iTunes (not with these types of digital signage solutions) you can download new music. But what you cannot do is change ANY part of the music, or individual song.
At the end of the day, it is up to you to sift through the boatload of solutions and try your best to filter out the good from the others. Where the others may save you a couple of bucks upfront, they will undoubtedly cost you a lot more in frustration. For more, check out our blog Digital Menu Boards for Digital Menu Boards.
- Content Management and File Management under one roof is critical when deciding on a digital menu board solution. Do not waver from this.
- There are media player-only companies and software-only companies that go to market as “solution” based-companies – FALSE!
- Content Management is a lot more than being given the capabilities to manipulate a PPT.
- File Management allows you to schedule your media items for display – this should not be limited to the entire screen. Different areas of the screen should have the ability to display different things at different times.
Want to learn more? Check out a digital menu board solution that has both Content Management and File Management only a web-based login away! Or give me a call to discuss more today at 888-235-2579.