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Customer Inter@ction Solutions
March 2007 - Volume 25 / Number 10
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Deploying Digital Signage In Your Company

By Bob Brittan
Symon Communications Inc.

Chances are pretty good that you have already thought about a plasma or LCD screen for your home or business. With manufacturers constantly facing competitive pressures on cost, the true winner is definitely the consumer, in both the private and commercial sectors. HDTV (high-definition television) broadcasting has entered the mainstream, and satellite and cable companies are constantly in the news. Today, let’s focus on the planning stages necessary for a business requirement to display information to your employees and even your customers using display technologies.

Common Display Devices
There are many display choices, but let’s focus on four common display devices practical for the enterprise:
• LCD (slim, lightweight panels, a good choice for a brightly lighted room because reflections are minimal);
• Plasma (known for accurate colors, deep blacks and minimal blurring of fast motion with a wide viewing angle to ensure good   sight lines);
• LED wallboards (intense LEDs have a great viewing distance, a long life span and rugged construction); and
• PC (desktop or laptop, for personal viewing, streaming video, anytime, anywhere).

LCDs and plasmas (new television installations are becoming rare) used in the enterprise are most often found in areas with moving traffic such as lobbies, break rooms and hallways. They can be used for wayfinding, advertising and branding, company news and information and entertainment purposes. There are many options for corporate communications including video wall configurations and media player options that get the images out to the displays. The very presence of digital signage with vivid and dynamic video gets the attention of the viewer and gets your messaging across quickly and efficiently.

If your original idea was for one plasma or LCD in a large room that multitudes of employees will view (like a typical contact center), consider this: the viewing angle, size of font and screen layout affect the line of sight and distance from which the viewer can easily read the information. A much better solution is multiple plasmas or LCDs (remember the competitive pricing), strategically placed. However, plasma screens can suffer from burn-in, which is caused by images that remain onscreen with the same content and in the same position for a long time. Contact centers use displays to show call statistics and usually have static headers or logos that can quickly cause burn-in on a plasma. This can be alleviated by changing layouts often, which also makes the screen more appealing to viewers, or using LCDs, which are a bit more expensive than plasmas but are not as sensitive to burn-in.

An even better solution for a contact center is an LED display commonly called a reader board or a wallboard. Wallboards have been around for over 25 years and are still very popular in contact centers and other industries. The intensity of the LEDs makes it easy to read the messaging from great distances and from many different sight lines. LEDs have a long life span and the new generation of wallboards will certainly be on par with flat panels, offering full motion video and graphics capabilities.

Another way to get the same messaging found on display panels out to those employees who may be out of sight of the displays or out of the office is the PC desktop (or laptop). It is convenient today with streaming media to the PC to get any type of messaging out to your remote employees. Real-time alerting and messaging to the PC has been around for many years, and technology today enables your employees to get company messaging and information from the Web.

Content Is King
Planning for your first digital signage solution requires an understanding of the end result. If “content is king,” you must be sure that your business and client objectives determine the content. The content determines the technology solution and related considerations that follow with the implementation of your solution. Most digital signage implementations are passive experiences in which the content is presented and the viewer is expected to passively watch it. This puts added pressure on the content creators to craft a message that is sufficient to keep viewers’ attention and incite them to take specific actions.

Business requirements alone do not determine content strategy. Other considerations to think about include the environment and indoor placement and resulting ambient noise. Who is your audience? Are they transient, captive at their desks or waiting in a queue? What is their mind set? You will need to get your IT department involved and discuss the infrastructure and your requirements for DSL, satellite, WAN/LAN and the bandwidth to make it all happen. After you have decided on your display type, you must consider mode (portrait or landscape), aspect ratio (screen resolution) and screen placement. Work with a knowledgeable media consultant vendor that offers professional services to take you through these steps and turn your digital signage vision into a reality.

Return On Investment
If you are not the ultimate decision maker but are aware of the high value and benefit in a digital signage deployment, you will probably be asked about the ROI. Digital signage has a different structure and may have a soft ROI but it definitely has a hard ROO (return on objective). Your original reasons for a digital signage solution will have unique objectives. Some ideas to substantiate a ROO include experiential benefits that enhance the overall viewer experience, making the emotional connection with company visitors or consumer, and mitigating perceived long wait times in just about any situation.

Some other benefits:
• Instantly communicate with all employees, 24/7;
• Offer one consistent voice with one consistent message;
• Create messages tailored to the specific audience;
• Create a workforce of “brand ambassadors”;
• Strengthen crisis communication plans;
• Effectively distribute HR and business announcements; and
• Automate real-time delivery of key business data.

Brand Management
There is also the promise of brand management, and in these days of MCI and Enron, keeping corporate promises and trust has an entirely new meaning. Contact centers use displays
to show call statistics and usually have static headers or logos
that can quickly cause burn-in
on a plasma. This can be alleviated by changing layouts often, which also makes the screen more appealing to viewers, or using LCDs, which are a bit more expensive than plasmas but are not as sensitive to burn-in.
You can now be forthcoming and share pertinent information that develops trust and builds brand leverage while educating your employees and customers. Digital signage is also used for associate training and communication and, with dynamic content, keeping viewers aware and informed.

Your digital signage deployment needs to be driven by well thought out business objectives. The content strategy will drive the decisions surrounding the software and hardware and related considerations for your dynamic digital signage network. Turn your office or business into an informed showcase by adding strategically placed digital signage that displays dynamic meaningful content to your appropriate audiences. CIS

Symon Communications, Inc. (www.symon.com) is a privately held technology company and a provider of real-time and digital communication solutions. Products include reporting, messaging and alerting systems along with an advanced infrastructure providing a message creation and digital display environment with advanced text, graphic and scheduling capabilities.By Bob Brittan
Symon Communications Inc.

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