Kelly Eisel
Marketing Copywriter
Industry Weapon

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Did you ever fantasize that technology would advance to the levels of 3D printing in your lifetime? It has. (You can print pancakes now. Yes, pancakes.) And, the capabilities are only picking up speed. Wearable technology (some are better than others) and electric cars are jumping from the pages of science fiction books and into our everyday lives. While hover boards and “Jetson’s-esque” robot maids are still a few years off from becoming household standards, 2015 is sure to bring some futuristic tech trends our way.

1.) Internet On The Go

By now, it’s safe to say that the majority of internet users access the web from their mobile devices. So it’s no stretch of the imagination to see that users will be using these devices as their primary connection. According to Ovum, one billion people will use mobile as their only form of Internet access in 2015.

This will have a hefty impact on cellular service providers who will have to up the speed and optimization of their networks to keep users satisfied. Also, tech trends like these will lead to a wave of hardware upgrades for wireless routers. Finally.   

2.) Network Investments

Virtually all aspects of our working lives depend on internet access. In fact, companies actually lose money when their network is down. An Evolven study reported that network “configuration errors can cost companies up to $72,000 per hour in Web application downtime.” To remedy this situation, businesses will reinforce their networks to increase reliability and innovation.

Playing off of the effects of the previous trends, businesses will continue to rely on the cloud to store and communicate their data. Investments, especially in the cyber-security realm, will heavily impact company budgets as hacking threats continue to grow. (We predict a few more celebrity data hacks.) Software vendors will take advantage of data security best practices and implement third party audits to prove that their facilities are protected.

3.) The Human Brand

The advent of digital shopping allows consumers to access infinite retailers, instead of the previous few in driving distance. Because of the vast number of options, consumers are also learning to exercise skepticism. Why choose this retailer when the next one has free shipping? Why are their products so cheap? The list goes on.

Marketing efforts will become more upfront and honest to target our raw, humanistic sides. Brands that allow consumers to rate their products and services and read other reviews are having much more success than the brands who brush negative feedback under the carpet. With this level of honesty comes trust. Consumers are more forgiving when they can hear why someone had a bad experience with a brand.

4.) Digital Messaging on Every Screen

Digital communication is becoming a necessity among all industries, internally and externally. These dynamic signage deployments are rapidly increasing. They allow end users to transmit infinite messages to their viewers. By 2015, digital signage adoption is expected to grow by 66% and 56% for interactive signage.

The software behind these devices is certainly making leaps and bounds in the tech world. Social media integrations and interactive capabilities will be adopted as a regular use of digital signage over the next year.

The tech trends of 2015 are sure to bring plenty of advancements in hardware and software. Here’s the rundown:

  •     Consumer facing products like mobile devices will be the main source of internet access.
  •     Businesses in all industries will begin to make budget arrangements to implement more reliable networks.
  •     Marketing efforts will revolve around honesty as brands realize that authenticity is an attractive quality to consumers.
  •     Digital signage will continue to increase in popularity, allowing streamlined, innovative communications.

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Tuesday, 03 March 2015

It’s an outlandish commitment to make in the software world, where the great portion of billing comes from lengthy support phone calls and training sessions. It wasn’t an easy decision to make. At first, we considered the risks involved and wondered if the lack of training and support revenue would result in bankruptcy. But we knew the only way to provide the best software out there was to offer the services for free. How? Because our software would be built around easing common training questions and support issues, while welcoming the opinions of our customers.

Picture it: You’ve just purchased a software solution to power your digital signage. Excellent. But you have no idea how to create and schedule content to the players. Not so excellent. No one enjoys going through training. It’s a time-consuming, sometimes confusing, necessary evil. So when software providers charge their users a fee for training, they’re only adding insult to injury.

For most digital signage software providers, the costs of training can be over $1,000 a day. These companies usually limit the number of trainees allowed in each session; a one-time training is all you get. After that, you have to pay for another session. Some also require trainees to travel and attend their designated training sessions. Others give users the option to sign up for specialty training courses and charge them via an A La Carte menu. Talk about inconvenient!

If a user wants to better understand how to use a particular integration, they should be able to receive specific training on that subject, not a boiler plate “one size fits all” program. At Industry Weapon, we understand that not all trainees entail the same level of instruction. Some trainees can quickly grasp user-platforms, while others need to start at the basics. Forcing these two parties to attend the same training session is inefficient. We offer training in all levels at each stage of the digital signage deployment.

How do we do this? We call it ‘chunking.’ Chunking is one of the most effective training methods out there.  It breaks up the information into easy to understand pieces so that short term memory information is converted into long-term. By breaking up the steps needed to create and deploy content into sections, users can more quickly grasp the basics of CommandCenterHD.

We’ve applied the best educational practices to ensure the highest level of knowledge retention. Plus, if a user only wants to review a shorter step, they can go back and do so at any time. Our software, CommandCenterHD, houses an extensive library of video tutorials created by our training team. We also provide PDFs for users who prefer text instructions. Our customers can always speak directly to our trainers and support team when they wanted additional guided help.

If the software is giving you issues, why should you have to pay extra money to fix it? Software providers should strive to keep their solution error free. They shouldn’t punish customers for issues they can’t control! A free-of-charge support system works in favor of the software developers; customers are more inclined to call about tiny issues. Customers who feel they can call in at any time promotes an open dialogue and eleveates frustrations felt by the customer. Also, support should be available to customers 24/7. When difficulty strikes, nothing is more annoying than submitting a ticket via email and waiting two business days for a response.

Charging for training and support is a common for SaaS providers, even after they already pay fees for the service. We went a different path by offering the two for free. This model forces us to provide the easiest-to-use, bug-free software on the market. We do spend more time and money on training resources, but our multiple training options give users the most intricate understanding of our software. We have found ways to provide live support for all of our customers around the clock.  The result is a successful digital signage deployment for our customers.

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Wednesday, 08 October 2014

This is the second installment of a bi-monthly blog piece, written by our Content Creation Team, geared to help users create visually compelling content.

Believe me, creating well designed content takes practice. Most content creators learn the basics of how to use their digital media software, and stop their education there. I’m here to tell you that there is always room for improvement.

In the first blog of this series, Why Design Matters, I explained how design has a huge impact on attracting and retaining audiences. In this blog, let’s focus on what not to do when creating a design. Don’t worry, these mistakes are easy to remedy! Make these simple changes and not only will you see an increase in audience engagement but also notice your signage has become the go-to for organization communications. Here are the five most common mistakes customers seem to make when creating content for their digital signage :

1. Multiple Thoughts Per Slide

Too many ideas, so little time! Where is the audience supposed to focus? Remember, slides play on a time limit, so the audience only has time to digest one idea. With too many messages being displayed at once, the audience is sure to get confused and annoyed. Instead of cramming multiple event details onto one slide, limit messages to one idea: “Picture Day: Friday 13, 2015. Auditorium from 10AM-3PM”

2. Text Overload

A paragraph in size 10 font will do nothing for your communication. Your viewers have been reading emails all day, the last thing they want to read is an essay on the company picnic. Too much text is a sure-fire way to get people to ignore your message. Instead of listing tons of safety tips, keep messages narrowed down to one sentence: “Be sure to wear protective eyewear before using any machinery.” You can break up longer thoughts into multiple slides, just be aware that your viewers may not have a chance to see every slide in your series.

3. Hierarchy

If the visual order of the content doesn’t make any sense, your message will be lost. Make sure that the most important part of your message is the first thing your viewers see. The last thing you want is for your message to get lost in the shuffle because you didn’t have room for it next to the funny cat meme.* Make sure your message gets consumed by making it the largest element on the slide, altering it’s color to be different than other text, or even repeating it a few times.

4. Boring

Static, black text on a white background, no pictures, bland language… digital signage shouldn’t look like a boring legal document . So often do we see amazing digital signage deployments in high traffic areas playing dull slides. Clearly, no one pays any attention to this content. Black and white televisions are a thing of the past for a reason, give your material life and color! Use some stock photography to add a visual to your message, or upload photos from your social media sites.

5. Lack of Supporting Elements

Slides with just words or slides with just pictures will do nothing for communication. The best slides incorporate both text and images. Marrying the two will hit the viewers with an emotion and a call to action. For instance: if the message is about eating right, provide a picture of some freshly washed veggies. You’ll capture their attention with the photo, then they’ll be more likely to read the message.

And while it is always easier to assign these responsibilities to someone with a graphic design background, it isn’t always necessary. Instead of getting overwhelmed and resigning from the design position, you can steer clear of the faux pas listed above. Avoiding those will take your signage to a whole new level of design and improve the effectiveness of your signage communication, readying you for our next blog piece: implementing design best practices.

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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

In the retail world, its an age-old dilemma: should managers and employees manage internal work assignments and ignore customers, or tend to customers and neglect the backroom duties. Sure, communication efforts and task management in retail corporations are extremely important to the overall success of the business, but without devoting time and attention to customers, the business is doomed. To remedy this situation, many HR departments have implemented Workforce Management (WFM) systems into their companies.

  •     Retailers rated their current WFM solution at a 6.5 out of 10.
  •     81.8% of retailers are focusing WFM upgrades on managing tasks to better serve customers.
  •     83.3% of Retailers would like to include mobile applications into their next WFM upgrade.(1)

WFM promotes manual process efficiency, effectively gathers and retains data, and builds time for engagement among managers, employees, and customers. WFM encompasses all of the popular areas of management like payroll, scheduling, compliance, fatigue management, absence management, performance management, HR administration, budgeting, talent acquisition, training management, and emergency assistance.

While WFM solutions have the ‘set it and forget it’ mentality, the communication efforts only reach the employees who are able to check a computer throughout the day. Most retail employees are rarely behind the computer, unless it’s for Point of Sale (POS) purposes.
Digital signage is quickly becoming the industry standard in retail. It allows internal signs to display real-time updates on all aspects of WFM. These signs are the fastest way to connect with employees who are not able to check their email for company announcements while on the clock. Signs located in the backroom, or facing out of customer sight, can display all of the information WFM solutions can provide.  Managers can see who is on the floor or who is running late, at a glance. Employees can see hours, access the employee directory, and view their pay statement. Mobile capabilities allow managers to make transaction approvals even when they’re not on site.

Integrations and applications are the easiest way to communicate company data to specific audiences, like store employees or upper management. Automated from existing data sources, integrations create informative, strategic, and esthetic content. ‘Automated’ means once companies have supplied the digital signage software with a data source, the integrations will update each time management does. And the best part is company data is securely locked down and kept safe on the company's own network.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for sales per employees, financial goals, store performance, turnover, customer satisfaction, and labor expense are displayed instantly.Companies that use Salesforce to manage CRM activities can share pipeline reporting, goals hit or missed, team leader boards, and retention reports can integrate as well. Publish meeting room info, events, directories, service desk statistics, safety incident reports, production line status updates and more.
With digital signage integrating with WFM solutions, retail employees can now and devote that attention to the deserving customers, knowing that they will not miss out on any important information from the company. Customers will no longer feel like they are being ignored by associates, or that they are stalking employees when simply asking a question. Turnover rates will decrease as both consumer and retailer reopen communication pathways.

(1)  RIS News Custom Research - customer-centric wfm.

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