Digital Signage CMS Software Benchmarking So Far Suggesting They’re All Pretty Darn Similar
February 9, 2024 by Dave Haynes
Sixteen:Nine’s German content partners Invidis did a micro-conference last week during ISE and I finally had some spare time today to review notes about the session they did about the CMS software market.
The company, which also does a lot of consulting, set aside time to talk about the findings so far from what they call the Digital Signage Software Compass – an effort to compare and benchmark the many, many, many, many CMS software platforms on the market globally.
There are 100s, and walking around the show last week, I yet again saw new companies showing, as well as new and unfamiliar logos on the partner lists of display vendors like Vestel.
Invidis consultant Marco Wasserman, an integrator who has been around software for 20 years, is doing the work – and he has dug into more than two dozen so far. What he’s found to date confirms my impressions, and those of many others who don’t have a direct involvement in a software company (Disclosure: Sixteen:Nine is owned by the software firm Spectrio, but I have no role in product management or development).
What Invidis is finding is that all the ones looked at are pretty good in terms of capabilities, but also all pretty much the same in how they work and what they do.
“What we see is that they all look very, very similar,” Stefan Schieker of Invidis told the crowd. “They all take very, very similar approaches to what digital signage is, and should be. And for me, the question is where is the innovation coming from?”
“For me, the fundamental question is: With pressure on the traditional CMS markets, where’s that market going? Where’s the innovation happening? Who’s driving that innovation?”
Most of the software options on the market, Schieker says, do what they are expected to do, and some have been around for 30 years or more. That’s a sign of maturity. But as I said before, the question is, where does innovation come from? We see pressure on that market. So we see, we have the question of the big guys like Samsung, making big investments, trying to create CMS platforms. What’s the role of Adobe pushing into the market? What’s the role of the CMS system?”
“And you can ask the question, are the digital signage CMS platforms going to be marginalized, or commoditized?”
These are very real, very legitimate observations. When I see new companies popping up, and making marketing and value proposition statements that read like scores of others, I wonder, “Why??? Did they not do any market research first?”
No one would dispute that there are too many software options out there. That happens across all kinds of technologies and markets.
Some companies will rise up and be dominant. When I started going to pro AV trade shows almost 20 years ago, Scala was the dominant player. It is still a big player, but it has many other serious competitors now.
While there are 100s of companies, the list of those doing big trade across multiple countries and regions is quite small. There are also some companies that are very big in countries like France, and not really active elsewhere.
What I always say when talking to small and new companies is that they will struggle to succeed if they just have very general offers and solutions, as in “We do digital signage, what do you need?”
I encourage them to find a niche that’s not already heavily tapped. Retail is not a niche, but subsets like luxury retail and auto retailing are kinda sorta niches, albeit busy ones.
SMB is not really a niche and a lot of companies that start in SMB shift to enterprise – where there is scale and the end-users are not typically as fussed about costs, as in “Why can’t we just use TVs???”
It is important for software companies to be very well defined in what they do and offer. It is VERY helpful to be known as “the guys” who are particularly strong in functionality, like data handling, or a vertical market, like airports.
If you are not differentiated in some way, you are left to work VERY hard on marketing and building top of mind awareness … or you are just competing on price.
It will be super-interesting to hear of the sameness that exists now with this embryonic compass continues as more companies are analyzed. Marco, as the saying goes, is doing God’s work. 🙂