Digital Signage Workflow
Jul 9, 2014 12:24 PM, By Adrian Weidmann
The most critical factor
Over the years, there have been many catchphrases used in advocating the merits and success of digital signage such as, “content is king,” but there is another factor emerging that warrants serious attention.
That critical factor is workflow. Understanding workflows, and specifically digital workflows, within the business ecosystem may be the single most important factor to completely understand prior to selecting any component of a digital signage infrastructure.
What is workflow? The dictionary defines workflow as “the sequence of industrial, administrative, or other processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion.” What does understanding workflow have to do with selecting a digital signage software provider? The answer, based upon emerging insights and experience, is, “Everything.” “The piece of work,” as noted in the definition above, when put into the context of digital signage, is the communication objective as presented as a visual clip—in short, the digital signage content. Understanding all of the industrial, administrative, or other processes that are required (or should be required) from the concept all the way through production, distribution, measurement, and optimization is imperative to ensure you select the correct digital signage software or service provider.
The complexities of workflows vary dramatically and are often unique to a particular client. Typically, this complexity has little to do with the number of displays but rather the number of variables required to present the correct content in the concept-to-viewer process of the particular business ecosystem. Delivering the same content to many locations across an IP network is relatively straightforward. The complexity of the workflow, and hence the capability of the digital signage software and its provider, increases exponentially as the number of process requirements and variations increase within a particular business ecosystem. These variables may include language, day parting, countries, variations in contractual obligations, brand management, inventory, and supply chain variations.
The unique workflow associated with a particular client or business ecosystem will directly affect the selection of the correct digital signage software provider to best deliver on the communication objective: the content strategy. There is often a tremendous gap between tradeshow demonstrations of digital signage software and the reality of the daily operations, and the sequence of those operations, of running a business.
The gap between promises made and promises kept from digital signage software providers seem to widen in direct proportion to the complexity of the workflows of a specific implementation. What is particularly noteworthy is that these discrepancies often don’t reveal themselves until 12 to 18 months after the initial deployments. This most likely means that two years have passed since the purchase decision was made and any changes in your current or expanding infrastructure and deployment will be very costly in time, money, and even your job.
Take the time to identify and understand the entire workflow associated with the business environment in which you will implement a digital signage solution before you do anything else. Hiring an external resource with the experience and perspective to identify (or design) and define the holistic workflow, and then be able to translate those insights in asking (and observing) the appropriate why, who, what, where, when, and how questions of digital signage vendors may be the most important investment you make, financially and career-wise, in this entire process.
Adrian Weidmann, founder and digital media communication architect of StoreStream Metrics, is a digital media strategy and transformation consultant, who bridges the business objective gap between the chief marketing officer and IT. For the past 16 years, Weidmann has pioneered all aspects of digital signage from content creation, curation, configuration, publishing, and measurement to digitally empowered shoppers by way of media channels of their choice and has served on the Digital Signage Expo Advisory Board since 2010.