Blog: Frank Kenna 

Frank Kenna (bio)
President and CEO
The Marlin Company

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

I hope so, because according to the website, the Olympics’ closing ceremonies “received an 8.7/13 household rating with 15.1 million viewers. That is the lowest household rating for a Winter Olympic Games Closing Ceremony ever – dipping just below previous record holder of Torino 2006.”

The author didn’t mention the reason why the ratings were lousy, but I think I know why. With the average home having over 100 cable channels to choose from, DVR-recorded shows, access to Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO and similar services, smartphones, tablets and state of the art video games, I’m actually surprised the ratings weren’t worse.  

Your workplace digital signage has similar competition. Maybe not so much from cable TV and games, but think about what’s available on your employees tablets and smartphones. Anything and everything, and I’ll bet it’s more engaging than what’s on your screens. When you see them walking around, are they looking at your digital signage – or looking down at their phones?   

So what do you do about it? Start thinking about getting your workplace communications on the screens they’re looking at; their tablets and smartphones. While digital signage is still a viable communications medium, you need to be thinking about a strategy to get your content on their screens.  

In future blogs I’ll explore ways to do this and cover some of the issues involved.  

Posted by: Admin AT 10:29 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Thursday, 13 February 2014

On his first day as Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella said his job is to make sure that “Microsoft thrives in a mobile and cloud-first world.”  I think that’s not only good advice for the world’s 41st largest company, but for every organization with employees.  

Why?  Because this shift has little to do with the size of a company.  Rather, it has everything to with the various ways people consume information in today’s world.  Walk down the street or through an airport, hotel, office or restaurant and what do you see?  People looking at screens; big ones on walls (e.g., digital signage), small ones in their laps (tablets) or smaller ones in their hands (smartphones).  They’re not just relying on a computer at their desk for company information. Those days are gone.  

Nadella knows this and is refocusing Microsoft’s attention on the cloud and mobile.  

The same rule applies to those in the workplace communications field.  If you need to communicate to your employees, think about where they’re most open to communications.  And then, like Nadella, focus your communication strategy on communicating through those channels.  

As he also said in his first email to employees, harnessing the power of these new techniques will “truly empower every individual and every organization.”  

Posted by: Admin AT 01:41 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Thursday, 06 February 2014

Let me tell you about what you won’t read in this blog: numbered or bulleted lists breathlessly exclaiming about the newest embedded computer or 4k screen.  Sure, I guess both of those will be factors this year, but insignificant ones.  They’re evolutionary at best.  

The biggest trend I see is companies finally realizing that they need to have some sort of digital communications strategy and that in many cases it includes workplace digital signage.(DS).  Why?  Because “billboards” – whether corkboards or LCD screens – are  still a great way to get information in front of employees walking around the premises.  Probably always will be.  

In 2013 we saw a lot of larger companies finally getting some direction from the C-suite that a digital workplace communication strategy was needed.  This trend will accelerate throughout 2014 and into 2015.  Really, how can it not?  As the cost of hardware continues to decrease, the value proposition for digital signage is getting better and better.

Another trend in 2014 is the what I’ll call the ‘normalization’ of DS.  By this I mean two things; the decline of gimmicks and the increase of true value.  3-D & 4k screens, gesture control, video projection onto unusual surfaces are all pretty cool the first time you see them, but is there any added value in using them?  Not really.  In fact, the content generation costs involved with any of them are prohibitive.  What companies really want is to get their important messages spread throughout the organization.  Period.  It’s all about ease of use, content and reach.  

The last trend I’ll mention is the continued evolution of DS to mobile.  This one is really tricky for several reasons.  First is that DS systems are paid for by a company, but many/most mobile devices are paid for by the user.  That limits the amount of software that a company can reasonable expect a user to download.  It also causes the issue of supporting numerous versions of iOS, Android and Windows Phone.  And data security on non-corporate devices is problematic.

Second is the completely different user interface between DS and mobile.  Finding a DS system that also works well on mobile is a real challenge.  In fact, I haven’t seen a good one so far.  So will 2014 be the year that we see this happen?  Maybe, but one thing I know is that everyone is trying to figure it out.  

With all this technology available to our industry, change is the one certain prediction for 2014.  And I’ll reiterate is this: if you’re looking for a workplace DS system for your organization, don’t try to figure it out yourself.  Find a reputable company that knows what it’s doing and leave the heavy lifting to them.  

Posted by: Admin AT 09:06 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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