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DIY Digital Signage Install: Friend or Foe?

November 18, 2017

DIY Digital Signage Install: Friend or Foe?

When it comes to a basic digital signage installation, it's often tempting to take on a do-it-yourself project. For one, there's the exhilaration and sense of accomplishment that come with using your own know-how to tackle a digital signage solution. Then there are the numerous kudos you're bound to receive from managers and company bean counters who think you've potentially saved them lots of time and money.

But is a digital signage DIY project worth the effort? The short answer is, it depends.

The global digital signage market was estimated at $13.25 billion last year and is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 6.1% from 2014 to 2020.

And with that growth, more manufacturers are increasingly carving out their own little segment of this market by making it extremely easy for the DIY end user to set up stand-alone digital signage systems consisting of as few as three components:

1. HD LCD or LED widescreen display panel

2. Wall or floor display mount

3. USB or digital signage media player, including cabling

Of course, there are limitations to this type of DIY setup, but if you're okay with content consisting of a basic video loop or limited graphics, then "boom,"—you're in business.  

But when it comes to more complicated digital signage solutions, like those required by the growing demand from retail and healthcare, for example, there are often many balls in the air to juggle, each of which often comes with its own set of surprises and challenges. And in the end, you're going to get what you pay for.

This makes it complicated for value-added resellers (VARs) to recommend DIY digital signage solutions to enterprise customers requiring the flexibility to manage dynamic content over sometimes vast, integrated IT networks. That holds true even if the enterprise already has an internal IT department, because while they may have a good grasp of running their network backbone, they may not be experienced enough to integrate the "right" scalable pro AV systems into their networks.

Thus, there are times when a DIY digital signage solution can be a friend or foe:

Friend

Digital signage manufacturers have answered the call from DIYers looking for a cost-effective LCD solution that's easy to set up and operate and that can usually be had for under $1,000. These digital-signage-in-a-box systems come with onboard software, sign templates to create content and fairly generous warranties and can sometimes be managed to a limited extent via a mobile device.

While the moderate cost of these displays may hint at a shorter lifespan than their more expensive rugged cousins, the increased foot traffic brought into smaller businesses may offset the up-front investment of a DIY solution in the long run.  

This type of DIY digital signage solution lends itself very well to small retail, restaurant, and hospitality customers that don't require dynamic presentations (e.g., going from graphic images to video and back). With the addition of a plug-and-play device like a digital signage media player, mixed media formats like images, video, and audio can be presented in a relatively inexpensive package that is easy to use and still remains cost-effective.

Foe

On the other side of the coin, a DIY digital signage solution will almost never work for big enterprises, especially those with national or global footprints, because there are just too many moving parts (and often decision-makers) that go into the selection, purchase, and operation of these systems.

VARs will often find that these large organizations are going to budget for and expect scalable solutions that don't surprise them down the road with huge operating costs. This presents VARs with the perfect opportunity to recommend proven, durable solutions designed to last and be expandable in the future.

Users in verticals like retail and hospitality will seek out and demand systems able to offer up dynamic content to customers in real time, as business strategies dictate. This means they will also want to manage content, troubleshoot, and provide maintenance 24/7 via a network, which usually takes DIY out of the equation.

VARs that know when to facilitate a DIY project for their customers (and when not to) stand to gain the trust and loyalty of their customers in the long run by providing them with the kind of knowledgeable service that will earn repeat business.

Have you seen an uptick in customers requesting DIY solutions lately?