Did you know Adobe has a digital signage product? Me neither.
But it does. Called Screens. And it has been around as a component of Adobe Experience Manager for the last couple of years.
I mention this because, as ex-Scala CEO Tom Nix noted in a tweet last week, news about Coca-Cola rolling out a network on ChromeOS and ChromeBits was probably going to get talked about a lot this week in Las Vegas, at Digital Signage Expo.
— Tom Nix (@tomnixnyc) March 17, 2017
So now layer in Adobe, whose tools are used by damn near every motion graphic designer on the planet, and things are definitely getting interesting in the signage software space. The hardware guys like Cisco and HP never did much, but software is different.
Screens was talked up last week, in Las Vegas, at Adobe’s flashy annual summit for customers and the vast developer/creative community. It was even the subject of a 50-minute breakout session that walked through a retail scenario for screens in stores (through there dozens of breakouts, as well, on other subjects).
I have been around Adobe products for 20+ years but really don’t know the product suite with any depth these days. If you go on the company site, it’s a very pretty labyrinth, simply because the San Francisco company is into a lot of stuff.
Screens is part of Adobe Experience Manager, but there’s already so much packed into that product its landing page only make passing references to Screens, and focuses on bigger, more established elements like Sites, which is for design and management of web site.
Side note: A round of applause, please, for a company that doesn’t try to be cute and clever and associates product names directly to what they do. Sites=websites. Screens=digital screens. Yay!
I have spoken directly with a handful of Adobe people in the last year or so and maybe because I didn’t ask the right questions, maybe because they thought I knew, or maybe just because I’m old and increasingly stupid, I never did quite catch word that Screens even existed.
But it does.
The video presentation lays out a product that lives, like Sites, within Experience Manager (or AEM) and works in much the same way as Sites. So if you are comfy driving AEM Sites, this will look like a familiar set of roads.
The browser-based management tool has a set-up familiar to countless digital signage CMS platforms – with players, locations, devices, channels and functions. The cloud-based AEM server talks to the hardware players in the field, and those players check-in for content and leave analytics and system health log files.
The software player is an app operators download and it runs on iOS, Android and Windows. Presumably if the Android version is pretty current, then it can also run on ChromeOS now.
There is an online toolset to design content in the same way as Sites are designed, including interactive tools. When done, the content gets published and distributed out.
The Adobe presenters says their business development people are talking to companies like banks and cruise ship lines about what AEM Screens can do. Obviously, that makes them direct competition for some enterprise-focused companies like Stratacache and Four Winds, and others.
My take …
I’ve only watched a presentation online and as I noted earlier, can give you about three seconds of solid information about what AEM is all about. “It’s an Adobe product” about sums up my knowledge.
Screens “looks” a little simplistic compared to a lot of pure-play signage CMS platforms, and I am sure it is in some respects. But it also also hooked in with a pile of other Adobe products, like analytics and media planning/placement, that can make it slick and rich quickly.
Is this another “Uh-oh” moment like the “Google-Coca-Cola” news?
Keep in mind Screens has been out at least two years and you’d think a guy who tracks this industry every day would know a lot about it. Definitely don’t. It takes a Google search to get to very detailed product notes. If you just stayed on the website you’d be clicking for a while. Like maybe days.
BUT … a company that has a vast, loyal following and damn near a monopoly on software for creatives is a company to pay attention to in this sector. One of the arguments that Adobe makes in its presentation is that digital signage has been and still largely is a silo’d activity within an organization. You do your creative work, save it to a folder, then launch the signage management tools to schedule and distribute creative.
So wouldn’t it be great, the Adobe argument goes, if signage and screens were just a channel extension within the creative toolset?
Well … maybe. Running a second application is hardly a nightmare, and creatives are already using other software tools for productivity. But more software also means more training and more cost.
Adobe is not managed by goofballs. They would not be moving Screens along unless the proposition resonates with their customers. Keep in mind Adobe has a full, what they call Experience Cloud that includes ad campaign management.
Hey Adobe, I’m up for a demo!
Here’s a product video from 2015 …