Searching For The Best Digital Signage Software
The search for digital signage software
These days, the task of searching for any new product or service typically starts with a Google search. As with any other product, a quick Google search for “best digital signage software” will undoubtedly return a ton of results and matches. So, how does one differentiate between all of the different options out there in order to ensure that you make the best choice for your organization? Of course, there are many different things to consider so you should start this search with at the very least knowing what your needs are and what you ideally plan to use the software for. In this article we will break down some of the key things to look for when trying to figure out which is the best digital signage software for you and your organization.
Choose an experienced, software focused manufacturer
How many companies can you identify that are the best at producing BOTH software and hardware? The obvious answer is that there are in fact very few companies that are the best at BOTH because doing so is nearly impossible to accomplish. It is for this reason that we strongly suggest purchasing digital signage systems from a company that is primarily focused on engineering professional grade software. Do your best to resist the urge to simply default to the companies and recognizable brand names that make the best hardware because in all likelihood their software will leave a lot to be desired. Instead, seek out manufacturers that have at least 10+ years’ experience engineering professional grade software as their primary and main focus.
Seek out future proofing innovators
In the previous paragraph we briefly outlined why demonstrated experience (10+ years) and a focus on software engineering are two of the most important elements to identify in your digital signage software manufacturer. Now let’s add a third criteria to complete the list, and that is innovation. Without a focus on innovation there is no evolution of any product or service. Without the evolution of products and services, well, eventually the products and services will simply die out over time and leave you in a worse position than when you started. Considering the speed at which new technologies emerge and advance today, seeking out a software company with a proven track record of innovation and evolution in its key products is more important than ever. Doing so will ensure that you are selecting not only the top digital signage software today, but that it will still be among the best choices five to ten years from now. Be sure to look for companies that are focused today on forward thinking tools and features like:
- Smart content management automation
- Rule and data-driven content playback and content triggers.
- Easy integration with existing business systems (e.g. Office 365, PowerBI).
- Supports all web browsers, media players and system on chip displays.
- Supports modern content types (URLs, Live Streams, Live Data, HTML5 etc.).
- Camera based marketing analytics tools.
The best digital signage software is easy to use
Now that we’ve established that your next digital signage software will be purchased from an experienced software focused company that places enormous importance on innovation and product evolution, let’s not forget the most important question of all.
Will my employees actually be able to use this software!?
You would be surprised how often IT, marketing and purchasing departments end up purchasing software that is difficult to learn, inefficient to use and always ‘broken’. Making this mistake will cost your company a ton of money and may end up costing you your job! Before making your final decision make sure to see the software in action and if possible, make sure your colleagues that use the software daily have had a chance to try it. Most great software companies today will offer a 30-day free trial of their software because they stand by the quality and useability of their software.
Make sure you are purchasing software that your company will use successfully by looking for these characteristics:
- Browser based content management.
- Drag and drop based user interface.
- No local software to install on user workstations.
- No coding, scripting or computer programming skills required.
Options, options, options
Technology companies today will do everything they can to make you completely dependent on their own ecosystem for years to come, this is not something you want. Instead seek out software companies that are trying to offer you (and rightly so) the exact opposite. In short, at every stage, you should have options, options, options.
- Which displays and player hardware should I use? You should have options.
- Do I want a SaaS-based, or self-hosted software? You should have options.
- What type of computer or browser do my users need? You should have options.
- Which content and media types does the system support? You should have options.
You get the idea. Ultimately, you want to buy software from companies that will allow you to make sensible hardware/hosting/content choices and use the software in the way you want and need to. Watch out for software companies that are doing everything they can (including sometimes offering software or hardware for free) to lock you firmly into their ecosystem for years to come. For example, a reputable display manufacturer may tell you that they will offer the digital signage software for free if you agree to purchase their display/player hardware. This may seem like a reason to buy from them, when in fact it is an important reason why you should not. In the long run, you will end up stuck in a situation where this becomes the only company from which you can buy digital signage systems and you will end up in a tough position and well, out of options.
Automation saves time and prevents mistakes
You should know by now that computers can make simple decisions and execute complex actions much faster and with far fewer mistakes than any human being could ever dream of. It’s a simple reality of our times. Wouldn’t it then make sense to look for a digital signage software that allows you to automate your content management by creating simple rules and scenarios? Of course, the answer is a resounding YES! Thus, when evaluating a digital signage software, ask yourself ‘how much of the time-consuming day-to-day content management tasks can we effectively automate’? Thinking critically about this will allow your company to save time, save money on resources, and even prevent mistakes. Look for a software platform that provides content management automation abilities to:
- Pre-schedule your content playlists as far in advance as you like.
- Assign tags, validity periods and other simple metadata to your content.
- Automatically allow content to play or not play based on simple scenarios or data driven rules (e.g. Weather conditions, inventory levels, foot-traffic near displays etc.).
- Automate simple tasks via available API.
One digital signage platform, many applications
The final topic to keep in mind while searching is versatility. While no one digital signage platform will be the best for every single task and application, you do want to choose a platform that can at least handle them all effectively. Think about all of the different ways you plan to use your digital signage systems and then do your best to select a single platform that can achieve them all. For example, try and find digital signage software that can also act as:
As you have seen above, there is a lot to consider when searching for the best digital signage software. Be sure to focus on what you have learned in this article, and you will be well on your way to making the right choice for your company. As a final reminder, here are some key topics to remain focused on during your search:
- Buy from an experienced, software focused manufacturer.
- Think about your future needs, not just those you have today.
- Ensure your employees will be able to learn and use the software effectively.
- Avoid getting locked into a closed ecosystem.
- Select a software that offers time saving automation options.
Good luck, and happy hunting!