It's perhaps the biggest trend in pro AV and digital signage, and it's challenging many value-added resellers (VARs) to keep on their toes as the industry rapidly evolves. The trend is the ongoing convergence of pro AV with IT. Much of that convergence will involve cloud-based digital signage platforms which can be managed from any workstation with Internet access.
With that kind of flexibility, it's no wonder that many customers will be lining up in order to take advantage of these cost-effective communications platforms. Customers will still have questions about system components like displays and media players, but they'll also be asking if they can benefit from a cloud-based digital signage platform or if that's even the right solution for them to choose for their organization. As a VAR, you'll be in a better position to advise your clients by knowing some of the nuts and bolts of cloud-based digital signage.
What is it, and how does it work?
With overall global digital signage revenue expected to increase seven percent in 2016, corporate enterprise and other commercial users are always looking for the best of both worlds when it comes to their digital signage investments. They want cost-effective, scalable solutions that are reliable and effectively drive end-user engagement.
Enter the cloud. It's essentially a way to have access to on-demand, Internet-based computing where information and computing resources are stored at third-party data centers. Translation?
It means that most, if not all, of the hardware and infrastructure needed in order to run networked digital signage are moved off site, thereby eliminating the need for a large IT department. End users gain access to and manage applications by logging into a computer virtually anywhere on the globe.
Besides saving on electricity, floor space, and personnel, cloud-based digital signage platforms allow for real-time, dynamic message changes that can be delivered to remote locations 24/7.
What's driving the demand?
Much of the trend toward cloud-based digital signage has to do with enterprise decisions in their overall business operations strategy. Many companies and organizations are moving their computing infrastructure and applications off site into the cloud for a number of reasons:
- Increased global hacking threats
- Large amounts of money lost when networks go down
- Cost of salaries and benefits for IT personnel
One study predicts that by 2018, 59 percent of software applications will be hosted by a vendor or service provider and made available to customers over the Internet. This trend, along with pro AV moving toward offering more bundled services, makes it likely that future digital signage platforms will likely reside in the cloud, especially when adopted for large, networked, multi-location enterprise installations.
What solutions can I offer my customers?
Cloud-based digital signage solutions offer many benefits, but before VARs go ahead and recommend this service, it's important to know your customers’ business and whether or not the cloud is the right choice for a customer:
- Is their digital signage installation going into one location or many?
- What level of control do they want over their data and their network?
- How reliable is the Internet connection of the vendor and customer?
- What are the customer's privacy and data protection concerns?
Once these concerns have been addressed and your client wants to go ahead, you can highlight some of the benefits of choosing a cloud-based digital signage solution. Simple setup, minimal hardware, energy savings, global content deployment, and cost-effectiveness are some of the benefits that may sell your customer on the cloud.