Why Open Digital Signage Is A Competitive Advantage – Part 1

March 16, 2018 by guest author, Jami McGraw

Guest Post: John C. Wang, IAdea

To me, the journey in the digital signage business has been always about making high-quality, scalable digital signage systems openly accessible to anyone in the industry.

John Wang

Back in the early 2000’s, digital signage started as monolithic, proprietary systems. Companies often provided “end-to-end” “turnkey” solutions. Key components in a digital signage system, namely the server, the authoring tool, and the media player, all had to be sourced from the same vendor for one single system to work together. The capability of the integrated system was dictated by a monopoly, who may not always provide satisfactory product updates to address the most pressing problems. The cost of switching from one vendor to another was extremely high, if not impossible. While the closed, proprietary model worked well for vendors, it locked the end users into great risk.

Then in 2008, I organized the industry’s first “Open Digital Signage” forum in Taipei, Taiwan. Even though the event took place geographically far from most of the key players in the digital signage market, surprisingly, the event attracted digital signage companies in Asia sending hundreds of delegates. Opinion leaders spoke at the forum, laying out the key benefits of an open, interoperable world of digital signage, and how it would accelerate the growth and adoption of the digital signage industry. These directions have and will continue to shape the industry in the years to come.

Openness As Your Competitive Advantage

As an integrator, adopting the open platform approach is likely to play to your advantage. I recently worked with a global system integrator and together we won a project against a dominant incumbent vendor. The competition provided an end-to-end proprietary solution that required components only available from one single vendor. Concerned about being permanently locked into the proprietary architecture, the end user, a major financial holding group in Asia, deployed a room management solution that ran on Android-based smart signboards by delivering HTML5-based content.

I am often asked whether adopting open platforms necessarily leads to price competition and margin erosion. With almost two decades of success with an open platform business, the continued growth of my company, IAdea, may be proof to debunk the myth and guarantee that there is no such thing.

In some parts of the world, for specific vertical markets, open platforms may implicate price competition for low-end products. However, lower-end products would always translate into price competition, regardless of using an open platform or not.

Also known as the project-winning formula, open platforms are proven to effectively accelerate the emergence of solutions, particularly for large-scale, complex projects, where end-users of these projects tend to require access an extensive group of AV/IT developers to help customize the solution of multiple stages. As a result, end users with objectives of operation efficiency and goals to scale their chosen digital signage solutions, would naturally adopt open platforms.

If you have not yet adopted the open approach to your digital signage solutions, it is not too late to get started. Look for technologies that easily interoperate with each other and are supported by the largest number of ecosystem partners. You should soon reap the benefits of going open.

In Part II, I will share experiences and thoughts on how openness accelerates development of content, which is a key to a successful project deployment, in addition to how openness enriches user experience.

  1. If talking in the simpler form I also call open digital signage as Custom Digital Signage. This is a great platform to use if looking for digital signage solution, Loved it!
    Thank you for sharing!

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