Blog: Jeff Hastings 
Jeff Hastings (Bio)
Wednesday, 10 December 2014

A good systems integrator delivers a system that works, meets the client's requirements and is delivered on time and on budget. A great integrator goes a step further, and transforms business requirements into technology solutions, preferably solutions with a very long lifespan.

Much of what separates the two is the ability to communicate well with clients. How closely does the integrator listen and understand the business issues that the client faces and the needs of the audience who will view the signage? Do they use this information to engineer superior solutions that fulfill the client's needs? Project engineers should be skilled at interpreting business requirements and transforming them into appropriate technical solutions.

A great integrator is able to advise the customer about current and upcoming technology, and will recommend a technology solution that future-proofs their installation. This is very different from simply delivering on the client's demands — an integrator that is simply installing a shopping list specified by the client isn't really adding value.

Many digital signage installations require ongoing support. Content may need to be continually refreshed and updated, and new functions and capabilities introduced as business needs evolve. Therefore the relationship with the systems integrator should transform into a long-term business partnership.

How do you go about finding a great systems integrator that will become a valued partner for years to come? Due diligence in this process can be broken into five important steps:

Step 1: Consider the project

Define and be able to clearly explain both the current requirements of your project as well as future goals. Do you want to eventually transition to 4K content and displays? Do you want to add touch interactivity or live TV at some time in the future? Draw up the project requirements and selection criteria. If you don't have this expertise in-house, consider bringing in an expert.

Step 2: Consider the integrator from a business perspective

Review the financial health and integrity of the systems integrator's business. Ask for and call on references that have installed systems similar to what you are asking them to do. Assess the business culture of the systems integrator. How quickly do they respond to requests? Establish their billing practices — when does a casual discussion turn into chargeable consultancy?

Step 3: Consider the integrator from a technical/human perspective

Match the technical requirements of the project to the skills and experience of the integrator. Establish their ability to customize hardware if required and get a feel for how close they are to market-leading vendors. Be cautious of offers to tackle issues outside the firm's expertise. Review their website for examples of similar successful projects, and ask detailed questions about them.

Step 4: Look at the implementation process

Establish who will actually be working on the project, and what the roles of each member of the team will be. Verify that their experience, skills and qualifications are appropriate. Check what parts, if any, of the project will be subcontracted. Verify the suitability and skills of the proposed subcontractors. Discuss a timeline for implementation, including milestones and payment terms. Establish sign-off criteria, including deliverables such as documentation, training and records.

Step 5: Meet the whole team

It is essential to have a good relationship with the project team at every level — not just the managers. Seek a meeting with the whole team before you sign off the project, and ideally involve all the key stakeholders from your side, too. Look for a team that can contribute creatively but takes a measured-by-experience approach to your project.

Close attention to the considerations above will streamline the systems integrator selection process, and set both sides up for a mutually beneficial partnership that will stand the test of time.

Posted by: Admin AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Wednesday, 03 December 2014

As 2014 draws to a close, we reflect on a year that produced a great deal of innovation. Most notably we saw 4K make significant inroads the second half of the year. At BrightSign we’ve seen first-hand the demand for 4K products – since we began shipping our new 4K players in late Q3, we’ve been selling through inventory on a continual basis. And beyond this innovation at the high end of the market, we’re also seeing a big spike in demand for entry-level products. This is driven by a growing trend for mass rollouts of simple point-of-purchase displays in big-box retail, as well as a growing number of tech-savvy small businesses building and managing their own digital signage. In short: the digital signage market is experiencing strong growth both at the high and low ends of the spectrum. This translates into what I expect will be a very successful start to 2015.

An interesting revelation is that stronger-than-expected sales of high-end 4K products is due to more than just the desire to play back 4K content. Some customers are future-proofing their investments because they intend to transition to 4K content and displays in the near future, and even more customers are making the high-end purchase decision because the processing power and performance of the 4K players surpass that of a PC-based system at less than half the cost.

As for our new entry-level players, I believe they will fill a very important niche that’s currently filled by a sea of inexpensive, Android-based devices whose price-points are far more enticing than their actual performance. These consumer devices are complicated to set up and their ongoing maintenance costs frustrate end-users who gravitated initially to the low purchase price. Our new LS players will save these integrators and end-users a world of hurt because they will now be able to use an affordable media player that’s purpose-built for digital signage.

The market shifts I described above came as no surprise. Not only did we anticipate these developments, but companies like BrightSign helped to catalyze these market shifts. As we turn our attention to 2015, we approach the new year readier than ever to meet customer demand at every price point. Not coincidentally, this week we will take the wraps off our revamped product portfolio. We now offer the most diverse line of digital signage media players in our company’s history.

Since day 1, BrightSign has been guided by the simple principle of producing reliable, affordable media players that make is easy for businesses, brands and organizations to embrace digital signage. Our new product portfolio is a testament to that commitment – no matter how modest or elaborate the installation, we have a digital signage solution to meet the need. The coming year will present near-limitless opportunities for our industry, and I can’t wait to see what transpires.

Posted by: Admin AT 10:12 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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