You have decided your organization needs digital signage. Now what? Where do you start? Digital signage projects come with a unique set of challenges, including client stakeholder alignment, project management hurdles, content strategy, technology infrastructure, and resource availability.
There is a lot to think about, so let's dive into each area in detail:
Is everyone on the same page? Are they bought into the plan? Client and stakeholder alignment seems like a simple concept but is often one of the most significant issues derailing any project, including digital signage.
Ensure that the following stakeholders are present as early as possible in your digital signage project:
Project champion - This person has authority over the project and all stakeholders. They are the person that problems escalate to, are responsible for the budget, and ensure the right people are available to work on the project.
Technical - The technical stakeholder is typically someone from the IT department. They ensure the plan for the digital signage network is feasible and the infrastructure exists to support it. Additionally, they can evaluate if the devices (players, screens) you want to use meet your company's security requirements or other essential protocols.
Content - Let's face it - content is king! Make sure your marketing and/or communications folks are actively involved in what you are putting on your digital displays. It would be best if you had a cohesive strategy for your content. Ensure corporate branding and messaging are reflected and the content meets governance and privacy requirements.
Have these people available as early as possible in your digital signage project.
Having a plan and process is essential, and this is not unique to only digital signage projects. Break your project down into stages or phases. Identify key objectives for each stage and ensure you check all of the boxes as you move through the stages. Digital signage projects often bring together multiple departments, technologies, and data sources. There are many moving parts so staying on top of the project is critical.
What messages belong on your digital signage? Who are you trying to reach? What other channels of communications do you have available? These are just a few questions to consider when thinking about the content for your digital signage network. Ensure you have a robust methodology for what goes where and why. The reality is that not everything should go your digital signage.
Create audience personas and tailor your content to the various personas. When building your personas consider cultural, geographic, and other considerations. Make sure to avoid message fatigue, particularly when looping content!
Digital signage requires a unique design, and while it does follow general design principles, it has special needs. What types of content will you use? Video, still images, dynamic text, and streaming video are just a few possibilities. Your corporate feed is closely monitored if you integrate social media, but consider how you filter content from your audience or through hashtags. Also, think about your data sources - KPIs, news, weather, traffic, databases or other software applications, and calendars - are just a few examples.
Make sure you understand all of the rules and regulations, particularly accessibility requirements, related to your digital signage network. Don't build digital experiences that exclude people. For example, make sure the height of a wayfinding kiosk is appropriate for someone in a wheelchair and screen options are accessible.
Hybrid work environments are here to stay, so consider a mobile-first strategy. An omnichannel experience ensures your messages follow people regardless of whether they are in front of a mobile screen or a digital sign. Since the pandemic, QR codes have become very popular and essential for a mobile digital signage strategy.
A reliable technology infrastructure is critical to a successful digital signage implementation. In recent years, there has been a proliferation of technology improvements, from SoC screens to media players to purpose-built Linux devices to IoT. Each will have different considerations for how it will operate on a network.
Company networks aren't uniform. Make sure you work with your IT department to ensure the devices and screens you select meet your company standards. Provide them with as much information as possible about your chosen devices. Ask your IT department to provide a cohesive strategy for how devices will work on your company network.
Network bandwidth and configuration are becoming less of an issue with the cloud. However, make sure you look at the throughput and transferring of files. One option is to consider a forward and store methodology. However, this approach affects the network, and you will want to have a rigid schedule for how and when to transfer files.
Streaming content on digital signage has become very popular in recent years. It is essential to think about the best protocol and encoding structure. Additionally, consider what type of events you want to or are best to stream. Ensure multicast protocols are correctly set up on your network, and the technical infrastructure can handle streaming.
Lastly, ensure you get in the field and see where your digital screens will go. Make note of potential network and cabling considerations. Identify structural issues that might require involvement from construction or facilities teams.
Staffing is probably one of the biggest challenges facing companies these days. With projects like digital signage implementations, it is common to see a changeover in staff, particularly once a project has been live for a while. Staffing changes can be both from a technical side and the people creating and managing the content. Dedicated resources are essential but often impossible unless it is a large installation.
Regardless of your situation, make sure you have a plan in place for transferring knowledge between resources. Additionally, document all processes, guidelines, and other critical information related to your digital signage network. Finally, be prepared and be flexible!