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Technology Inside: Anatomy of a Good Digital Signage

Digital Signage? What is it used for?

Whether we are talking about a huge chain of stores or just a very market-oriented location, digital signage systems seem to be useful to all varieties of business. Sometimes, these systems can even be useful to entertain customers in line while they wait to purchase their goods. Of course, the main purpose is not necessarily to keep us entertained while we are waiting in line or in at the dentist.

The digital signage system is an excellent opportunity for retailers and manufacturers to focus their client’s attention on their latest products or promotions. And the thing is that, seeing how you are already in the store, the signage advertising does have the chance to be a better selling system more traditional forms of advertisement. But the secret is just in delivering the kind of content that is personally relevant to the customer in a way that compels them to take action, and a lot of that actually boils down to the quality of the system itself because, if you can actually see pixels or the image is fuzzy, you are not going to be interested in the product even if it is good.

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What the System Should Look Like

The complete system can be as complex or as simple as the store can afford to make it. Ideally, you would have a series of monitors that receive a signal from a central unit. How often that feed changes is one of the crucial aspects of how successful a signage system will be. It can be used to display ads for different products but it is really great when the store can afford to put up information that the clients will value, such as cultural attractions and weather updates.

Combining the ads with promotions going on in the store and information that is relevant to the client is essential as it will engage your audience in a more effective manner. Customers are rarely interested in knowing what new products have been brought into the store. However, if they glance at the board that is showing what new movies are playing, it may be interesting to see that bananas are on sale down the street.

How the Software Works

There are several software packages on the market that have been designed specifically for the digital signage system. The most basic software will just play whatever feed it is given and it is very little more than a fancy media player. However, there are other systems that can display two or even three sources of information at once or that deliver a secondary live feed. This live feed is extremely interesting in car shops, for example, because it allows you to see how they are working on your car and, if you are like me that is really going to make you feel very comfortable while waiting.

Other software systems also allow the operator to make actual changes to the feed. So if my mechanic finds that he needs to change more than he first anticipated on the car, he is going to ask me about it. But he is also going to feed that data into his system and I can get a live view of how my bill changes and why.

What Are the Your Basic Hardware Options?

As far as the hardware is concerned, you really can’t go too big with this system. Of course you go wrong in how you use it and never make your money back, but you can choose between foot-long LCDs, plasma or project monitors. Your choice depends on how much room you have and what kind of cash you’d like to spend. There will obviously be a digital player to provide the feed or you can use a computer and that will immensely increase your display capabilities. Finally, there are a host of cameras that can be added so the system has the live feed we’ve talked about.

The great thing about a digital signage system is that it is basically comprised of individual products that you probably already know about. So it can be a very interesting experience to research each product, especially if you are tech-oriented and enjoy learning about a technology before you use it.

Good Collaboration through Knowledge Management

The other side of the coin of organisational growth and how to fight it with Knowledge Management.

In order to work well with each other and collaborate, it is not only important to utilise appropriate collaboration technology. A good starting point is to understand each other and knowing what others are doing as well as what one can expect from their services.

In rapidly growing organisations, it can happen that people who previously worked very close with each other are more and more separated over time. Maybe not even in a physical way, but people are getting more and more skilled in their particularly focused task and might be even joining different teams permanently.

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Markus Mattern, holding a presentation around high-level video conference bridging.

This is a natural side-effect of organisational growth and there are a few things that can be done to prevent this from becoming a negative influence to the service quality. One thing that could be done is to increase the focus on Knowledge Management. Turning tacit knowledge into “common sense” can make a huge different when working with clients, other companies or even within the same organisation.

As GMS is not excluded from such effects we have developed a way of sharing knowledge and providing insight into each team’s work. That is why Markus Mattern, in his capacity as one of our Senior VIP Video Conference Bridge Operators, has taken great effort into preparing a presentation around technological and operational details around his and the team’s work.

Initially this was planned as a single workshop for the few of the company who might be interested in learning a bit more about other teams. However we received so much positive feedback about people who wanted to join that we actually had to make several workshops and even include the weekends.

The Workshop

The content of the presentation was prepared in a very appealing and visual way, so everyone in the audience could understand both the operational procedures and requirements of the video bridging service as well as the technical introduction on the video conferencing infrastructure no matter what their background was.

In this workshop we used Cisco TelePresence infrastructure devices as examples and described the function of a Multipoint Control Unit (MCU) and all it can do as well, as all the things even a good video conference bridge operator cannot do. We do this because we believe that even within the same company it is absolutely key to have clear expectations of what can be done and to know the things that cannot be done.

Markus explained what the Video Communication Servers (VCS) are there for and how they are utilised to traversal through corporate firewalls in an audit complaint way. This is very important for enterprises with a very tight network policy on the traversal between intranet and internet. But it shows that if the firewall traversal is well planned, configured and managed a lot of costs on ISDN (or all in best case) can be saved.

After all sessions have finished we received quite good feedback from everyone and are looking forward to the next workshop maybe from a different department then.

Thank you, Markus!