Modernizing Corporate Digital Signage In The Enterprise
November 1, 2021 by guest author Daniel Hurtado, Daniel Hurtado
Guest Post: Daniel Hurtado, Userful
In today’s corporate landscape, interconnection is paramount for organizations to thrive, and maybe even survive. Increasingly, our interconnectedness is visual, and companies are using visual tools to communicate, leveraging video, images, dashboards and more.
The need for those visual tools, along with the decreased price of screens, advancements in technology and increases in corporate network bandwidths are all driving a steep growth in corporate digital signage.
Modernizing corporate digital signage
Traditionally in the enterprise, digital signage was purchased, deployed and managed by whichever functional department was using it. Given the distributed nature of many organizations, individual departments and offices would invest in a Content Management System (CMS). These applications can effectively handle the front-end of a digital signage deployment, creating and deploying content, but what the enterprise has increasingly discovered is that for large-scale deployments, the bigger challenge lies in the back-end infrastructure. Signage solutions for the corporate market need to go beyond just authoring and distributing content across an organization by integrating the tools to manage the infrastructure that delivers such content.
Another problematic legacy of the proprietary hardware solution era of corporate digital signage was the silos it created. Before the rise of digital transformation, and network-centric operations, being siloed didn’t really pose a problem since each location or department often operated somewhat independently. But, now that organizations have centralized operations to the IT department, and work across offices and departments in a digitally transformed era, the siloed approach creates issues. This is especially apparent when it comes to the management of corporate digital signage as organizations increase the number of screens throughout their offices and facilities.
IT departments value the security, scalability and manageability of their infrastructure above all, and certainly, managing all these multiple siloed CMS and proprietary digital signage solutions across the enterprise—including office locations, manufacturing and operations floors worldwide—creates significant overhead for IT departments.
This has driven IT leaders to seek out a modernized approach to corporate digital signage deployments. Modernized corporate digital signage is based on a platform approach that integrates AV into IT and bridges the gap between the content creation and delivery functionalities of a CMS as well as the network, device and screen management and security tools that IT requires. What the enterprise needs is the ability to standardize on a single IT platform solution that can centrally manage its digital signage infrastructure worldwide, while still allowing each functional department to have operational control over the digital signage content and delivery. Once deployed, headquarters can still be able to centrally push content to all displays when needed for company wide communication.
IT is at the heart of corporate digital signage conversations
Corporate digital signage has become an IT conversation, and if digital transformation has taught us anything, it’s that software is becoming the chosen medium for operational tools and applications for IT. AV was one of the last strongholds where hardware-centric solutions were still the standard, mainly because of past limitations in processing and bandwidth capabilities for high quality video / image content. Technology advancements (as evidenced by Moore’s Law, Butter’s Law and Kryder’s Law) have increased both processing power and network transmission speeds significantly enabling off-the-shelf hardware to handle high quality video and enabling the rise of software-driven AV-over-IP solutions for the enterprise.
Software-defined AV-over-IP for the enterprise
AV-over-IP is a concept that’s been around for some time. But what conventional hardware-based AV solutions have done, in order to create AV-over-IP, is just use Ethernet to transmit video content. However, that does not equate to integrating AV into IT. If anything hardware-based AV solutions are actually bringing IT into AV. This perpetuates the traditional point-solution, siloed approach, that AV hardware solutions suffered from in the past but are now adding more load to the network infrastructure and creating more overhead for IT teams, without facilitating management of network infrastructure. This is definitely not what enterprise IT teams are looking for.
What the enterprise needs is a pure software-defined AV-over-IP platform, that doesn’t rely on proprietary hardware, but leverages standard server architecture. It empowers IT to seamlessly integrate their corporate digital signage (i.e. CMS solution, and other visual resources, both legacy and new) or other AV applications into their existing network infrastructure, providing the functionalities they need to successfully modernize their corporate digital signage. Three key fundamental areas that are critical to IT with any corporate signage solution:
- Security – IT needs to be able to easily implement existing security and data privacy protocols for corporate digital signage deployments;
- Scalability – IT needs to be able to easily add a new user or end-point to the existing display network infrastructure (just as they would add a new employee to their Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace infrastructure);
- Interoperability – IT needs to be able to leverage the open technology of a software-defined solution to extend the capabilities of corporate digital signage deployments, based on their specific needs. For example, they may want to integrate IoT devices and AI applications, and use the platform’s API to make content more dynamic and interactive.
What does the future hold?
IT is running the show now, and the easier it is for them to manage their network infrastructure (including their corporate digital signage) the better it is for the enterprise. The way of the future is for software-defined AV-over-IP platforms to bring the functionalities of AV into the realm of IT, facilitating the deployment and management of large-scale deployments such as corporate digital signage.
If we’ve learned something from the past couple of years is that we don’t fully know what the future holds, so the enterprise needs flexible tools to adapt and prepare for any changes, sudden or not. The advantages of a software-defined platform for modernizing corporate digital signage will continue to pay dividends into the future allowing providers to easily adjust and update their products to accommodate changing requirements in organizations in a more manageable, efficient and, ultimately, cost effective way—something that the enterprise truly appreciates.
ABOUT THE GUEST WRITER
Daniel Hurtado is Product Line Manager – Applications for Userful, a software company providing hybrid, cloud and virtualization services that power complex digital infrastructure for critical enterprise operations. The company accelerates digital transformation through visual transformation, enabling a broad range of visualization services.