Guest Post: Neil Bron Chatwood, Omnivex
I’ve recently seen a rapid increase in the number of digital signage projects designed to address corporate needs. In my experience, few businesses are entirely prepared for the journey of “We need screens!” to deployment. In this article, I address five aspects crucial to the success of any corporation communications project.
These recommendations are independent of technology and revolve around the business and human aspects of a typical network.
“Why?“ is the obvious question that rarely seems to be asked or communicated when the request for digital signage is born of an executive command. Nebulous objectives of “increasing engagement,” “driving brand loyalty ” or “hitting communications targets“ are determined, but how will these relate to the implementation of digital signage?
Discover how signage can make an impact at all levels of the corporation. Study the targets of divisions, teams and individuals. This analysis will highlight the true purpose of your screens, while helping to lay the foundations for viewer engagement.
Digital signage networks are expensive. Software, hardware, infrastructure, training, creative assets, installation, maintenance, project management, and internal time commitments can easily eat away at a budget beyond original expectations. How are you going to prove your signage is worth the cost? What can you analyze in the future to measure the success of the network? What employee-centric metrics do you have in place right now? At some point the agents of ROI will come knocking, and you should be prepared.
Identify the pre-existing metrics you hope to affect, some examples are employee satisfaction surveys, performance reports and historic divisional data points (KPIs). Even if your metrics are slightly abstract from the key purpose of the screens, it’s important to track targeted criteria post-installation. This is especially important if you are engaging in a pilot project before deciding expand the network.
The actual content for digital networks has a way of being underestimated or overlooked. Ironically, it’s common to find an integrator who will take care of everything apart from the creative. The typical response is to look in-house for a solution. Leaving you to recruit your marketing department, HR, or someone who is handy with graphic design to fill in the missing piece. Six months later you could have a technically impressive network, but the content lags and quickly stagnates. Without dedicated oversight and maintenance of creative, the value of your signage quickly deteriorates.
I believe that creative is the most important piece of any signage network. Content is the face of the entire rollout, and it’s what your audience will judge the success of the project on. Cohesive, considered, well managed, regularly updated content is crucial. Objectively take stock of creative abilities, the ongoing workload and time commitments your signage will demand. Make careful decisions based on realistically available resources, not from short-termed willingness and enthusiasm to contribute.
Digital Signage has a habit of being initially exciting, as departments dream of creating their own “TV Channel”. Once the logistics of the project dawn, it’s hard to find departments willing to take ongoing responsibility for maintaining and supporting the project. Even worse, everyone may assume other groups will take care of the screens, leaving it orphaned as soon as it is launched. A great digital signage network needs cooperation and communication between departments in order to thrive.
Ask vendors and suppliers for assistance in identifying requirements for the initial and ongoing requirements of your signage. Set clear departmental roles and expectations early in the project. Include internal stakeholders, such as IT, Marketing, HR and Facilities. Remember to look beyond the initial project work and consider the maintenance and post-installation functionality.
How are you going to encourage viewers to take notice? For a sales department, engagement can be as simple as posting targets and integrating real-time data. For others, a more thoughtful approach is required to reach human motivation. Content creation without engagement planning can lead to the installation of nothing more than digital wallpaper.
The easiest way to find out what people want to see is to ask them. Run focus groups at each level of the business you are hoping to affect with the signage. If the primary goal for the screens is to increase call center performance, talk to the people on the phones – not only the managers. The goal of the project is undoubtedly for the benefit of the company, but this will not be realized without audience engagement at the desired levels. If in doubt, think about the viewer’s perspective and ask yourself “What’s in it for me?”
Neil Bron Chatwood has been kicking around the digital signage industry since 2005. With well-rounded experience in all related fields, he works with his end-clients and partners to find the best possible solution for their needs. Neil hails from Northern England and is currently based in Toronto.