The Perspective 
Friday, 28 February 2014

By Stein Soelberg
Director of Marketing


Digital display advertising and digital signage is undergoing a technology revolution.  With electronic billboards and displays being deployed in more diverse and sometimes even hard to reach places, service providers are transitioning – from hard wiring displays to wireless connection via cellular networks – for content management on these displays.  While the use of cellular (and satellite) to connect and manage these displays (also called machine-to-machine or M2M communications) presents some challenges, the new market and revenue opportunities afforded by untethering digital display technology are not to be ignored.

As the largest global service provider for M2M connectivity, KORE predicted that M2M would shift dramatically in 2014 to richer data transport, with applications like digital displays coming online that yield a much higher bandwidth profile than our market has ever seen. Five factors have come together to foster this transition:

  1.     A monumental drop in cost per connection and cost per MB or GB of data consumed;

  2.     Smaller and cheaper devices that require less power to communicate wirelessly;

  3.     General ubiquity of cellular coverage (given the availability of multiple network options);

  4.     The trend towards single, predictable rating and billing due to eliminating roaming costs; and

  5.     The ability to pool or share data between multiple devices to reduce operating expenses

Contrasting the digital media industry with another bandwidth intensive application provides an apt analogy. Until this year no one in his or her right mind would have pegged cellular as an option for business continuity applications such as router back-up. Historically, using cellular to back-up enterprise routers (replacing an extra, expensive T1 line) would have been, simply, cost prohibitive. The connection itself, not to mention potential overage charges associated with data bursts, was just too much to swallow. But with today’s rate plans, many of which account for the ebb and flow of device usage by “self-adjusting” month-to-month based on the volume of data used – combined with plans that allow data to be pooled and shared across devices – makes cellular much more fiscally feasible.

Which brings us back to using M2M to control digital signage and advertising. Content managers and their applications can now track the performance of digital signs in real-time, ensuring they are operating properly and don’t require repair.  They can update messaging and advertising in more granular fashion, which allows for more campaigns to be shared among a wider pool of advertisers on the same sign. Same asset – now more revenue. Signs can be modified based on unplanned weather conditions, traffic conditions or, in the case of mobile billboards, proximity to a given business. As it drives by the Subway shop, for example, maybe the commuter bus billboard displays a code for 50% off a foot-long sub, good for the next 30 minutes.

In short, the opportunities for advertisers to get content in front of consumers at the right time, and for sellers of advertising to create customized programs for said advertisers expand exponentially once cellular gets involved.

Critically, centralized management systems also exist that allow companies to manage all of their signage from a single interface. Managers can track the performance of digital signs in real-time, ensuring they are operating properly and don’t require on-site adjustments. These systems help reduce operating expenses, increase customer satisfaction among advertisers, and propel the application service providers forward in terms of innovation and additional revenue streams with higher profit margins. The ultimate benefit is scalability.

On April 2, KORE will lead a Webinar on this topic in partnership with the Digital Screenmedia Association. Owners and operators of digital signage networks can register here for a chance to learn about current and future landscape of digital network management, including a primer on global cellular platform capabilities and intelligent network scaling to find the right balance between signage ROI and the customer experience.

Photo: czarcats

Posted by: Admin AT 02:55 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 18 February 2014

By Kisha Wilson
Marketing Manager
Slabb, Inc.     

There is no doubt that technology has infiltrated our schools and I am happy that it did. I'm in my thirties, and the school I attended was vastly different from my nine-year-old's school. I remember it was a 'treat' to use one of the few computers available at the school's library, for the limited time you had it. Now they use smart boards and have their own personal computers or tablets. It’s an inevitable result of the technological evolution and it comes with many benefits.

Most educational institutions first started using interactive kiosks as a way to manage the registration of students, especially at university campuses. It eliminated the long lines, allowing students to enter their personal information, choose their classes and even pay tuition using a secure, user‐friendly platform. Kiosk usage has since been extended, allowing students to:

  •     Top up smart cards to avoid using cash for school transactions
  •     Access transcripts
  •     Obtain campus maps
  •     Participate in student and faculty surveys
  •     Obtain directions for the area around the campus
  •     Check in for events
  •     Obtain campus information and updates
  •     Conduct research via the internet
  •     Purchase books online
  •     Fill out applications for student clubs and volunteer organizations

Schools are also using kiosk technology to promote recycling. At Texas A&M, recycling kiosks allow users to earn points for every bottle or can they recycle. The points can then be redeemed for discounts at participating local establishments.

Three Williamson County schools announced that they will start using small electronic kiosks in their front offices. It is hoped that it will make some of the schools’ processes more accessible to parents. It will also enhance current security measures, providing visual documentation, including vehicle information, of anyone present at the campus.
School kiosks bring many benefits including:

  •     Reduced payroll and overhead costs
  •     Increased efficiency
  •     Less paperwork
  •     A great opportunity for school branding to promote school pride
  •     A more positive, effective student experience

One of our earlier projects included the installation of information kiosks in three different languages at Stoddert Elementary in Washington, D.C. These kiosks facilitated the school’s efforts to become more energy efficient. Since then, as their benefits are realized resulting in increased usage, we have installed many types of kiosks at educational institutions, each customized to address the specific needs of the school.

Posted by: AT 11:00 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  
Tuesday, 11 February 2014

At this time last year, I was telling the DSA that I would sponsor the Dallas Symposium. Now I’m the Executive Director of the DSA, and responsible for it.

What a difference a year makes.

How many shows have you been to in the past year? A lot? I would need both fingers and toes to count myself. And at the end of every trip, I would ask myself, “Was this worth it?” Coming from so many different sides of the table, my perspective is unique.

It would be easy for me to move from sponsorship to ownership and say, “This is the place you should be.”

This is the place you should be.

Why? Two very good reasons.

You attend because you want to get something out of it. Insight, knowledge, networking, and business. With the Symposium, we have moved in a new direction that focuses on two key components of any valuable conference: Education and Networking.

First, from the educational side, we bring some of the best minds in the digital space to the stage, and listen to them talk about how this all works together, to share their experience and real-world situations. We encourage a discussion among the entire group so that no digital stone is left unturned

Smart people with smart things to say? Smart.

Second, with networking, we have created large breaks and an evening event that allows you to carry on the discussion beyond trading business cards. At the end of the day, you want to go back to work with “to-do’s,” people to call, discussion, and hopefully business.

How about business cards and a handshake? That’s what this is about.

That’s what the Symposium is all about. And that’s what visiting any conference should be about. Education and Networking.

Click here to learn more about the Symposium.

If you’re wondering about the quality of the event, allow the survey we took last year after the Dallas event to explain it.

And here were some of the testimonials from the survey:

  •     “Best networking I've had in a long time between end users. Very open discussions. Even conversations with vendors were non selling, which I appreciated.”
  •     “A very effective use of my time and value for our money.”
  •     “We'll definitely invite and push for all of our clients to attend in the future”
  •     “Great exposure to people I normally would not get to meet or hear their perspective as a buyer. Very interesting conversations.”
  •     “I thought all speakers/panelists were high quality, value add. I could find parallels even with industries that were different than mine.”
  •     “Glad I discovered this meeting. Very worthwhile. Very little preaching to the choir. Real meat as opposed to the tiresome ‘content is king’ or ‘this is the breakout year for digital’ you usually hear.”
  •     “Do one every quarter. I will sign up every time”

A LOT of time to network, and discuss what it takes to create a terrific experience.

So should you come to the Dallas Symposium on April 8-9? Yes. You’ll walk away with some great insight from some fantastic people who have been there and are doing that. You’ll be able to have in-depth conversations with other attendees and vendors who can help you move from ideas to experiences for your customer.

Because your customer is always right. Right?

(And if you’re interested in sponsoring, let me know. We are locking down sponsors now, and I would love to see you as part of the lineup!)

Posted by: Admin AT 10:32 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 04 February 2014

Laura Miller
Director of Marketing

Usability can make or break the success of any new website, application, or software. Also known as the UI (user interface) or UX (user experience), usability refers to the user's ability to successfully navigate a product in the manner intended to accomplish the desired tasks. There are entire industries built around better understanding these experiences, from optimizing a website checkout process to encouraging users to visit a particular page. These research industries use buzzwords like Voice of the Customer, Consumer Obsession, and User Experience Advocate and they staunchly advocate that nothing be deployed without an extensive cycle of research, testing, revision and testing.

Why usability testing?

Why is usability testing so necessary? While the layout, process, verbiage and navigation of a website, program or application may make sense to those involved in the design, they don't always seem so obvious to the user. Age, technical savvy, and education may play a role in how a user navigates, but so too may cultural differences, intended goal, and fresh eyes. Knowing your user, and their abilities, goals, and environment are key components to creating a successful product.

Why does UX matter?

Why should we care about User Experience? Self-service kiosks are responsible for setting up a user's experience with a brand. There are many moving parts in a kiosk deployment. Three that come to mind from the start include: hardware, application/program, and lockdown software. Watching how these things work together to make for a comprehensive user experience is an important component to a successful and enjoyable user experience.

Kiosk usability fail

Here's one example of how a kiosk deployment can fail (and yet, still "succeed") in a restaurant environment. The waiter, in this example, finds a workaround for a system that is not serving their needs. It's a must read for any naysayers of usability testing and observation as a means of testing and refining software. According to the author, "Computer systems are not always used as the developers suppose." As evident in this example, computer systems are not always used as the developers intended, nor as they would hope. More importantly, a complicated system is not always the answer.

The only way to know how users will interact with your kiosk is to observe them via lab controlled usability testing and in-field studies. In addition to traditional observation techniques, technologies such as heat mapping and eye tracking can also be used to better understand the user experience. Kiosk software with server capabilities can also assist in gathering usage statistics. In future posts, we'll identify common usability errors, solutions, and research methods.

Are you observing your kiosk in action? Does your client allow time for testing? What is your favorite example of something you discovered (and corrected) through usability testing?

Posted by: Admin AT 11:14 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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