Guest Post: John C. Wang, IAdea
Digital signage is evolving into a mission-critical IT backbone for smart infrastructures.
In the old days, the main purpose of a public display was to “reduce perceived wait time” and make a few advertising dollars. Today’s digital signage networks are responsible for enabling smart cities, making workplace efficient, and bringing the best that technology has to offer into everyday living.
When a display on the mission-critical backbone fails, productivity is interrupted and profits lost. The solution to address the risks is device management: platforms where devices are monitored, usage analyzed, and failures prevented.
Multiple technologies may be applicable to your digital signage network. Here are the key ones and the arguments for or against their use:
MDM (mobile device management): Management suite mainly for securing consumer mobile devices for use in the BYOD (bring-your-own-device) workplace. Main features of MDM include device commissioning, separation of corporate vs. personal data, and removing corporate data assets on demand. Other than enforcing data security, MDM solutions provide little to running a digital signage network.
EMM (enterprise mobility management): A larger set of tools that manage, in addition to the device, the software and data in the cloud that is part of the BYOD enterprise. EMM solutions enable license management, software deployment and updates. VMWare AirWatch provides a solution for this space. Digital signage users may opt for such a tool for deploying software applications and manage updates across a network. However, the vast IT infrastructure required to set up EMM just for digital signage makes it impractical for most industry users.
Remote access: Software that enables performing system maintenance on devices remotely. VNC and TeamViewer are well-known products in this space. This type of software is great for troubleshooting one device at a time. Operating on multiple devices can be very time-consuming and expensive.
Device intelligence and management: A comprehensive software suite that combines remote screen capture, logs retrieval, configuration changes, and software updates in one. This category of solutions is great for managing networks of size ranging from 20 to over 20,000 devices. Such services provide most direct assistance to digital signage network operators.
This last category also has the added benefit of collecting vast amount of operational data from field devices, which can then be processed through data mining for insights about the well-being of the deployment. Predictive maintenance methodologies, which drastically reduce operation costs, can then be performed to prevent costly failures.
Some digital signage solutions providers have built-in services like that, including my own company’s – called IAdeaCare. However, many digital signage software options on the market have minimal device management capabilities.
Across Fortune 500 enterprises and university campuses, in-house IT teams are rapidly adopting device management tools to make their systems bulletproof while reducing their workload. The choice of the tool will be central to the performance and return-on-investment for any digital infrastructure.
Make sure you plan ahead, factor in device management, and choose wisely for your next major deployment.