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Playbooks

A farewell to DVDs and USB sticks

Why old digital signage is out.

In the process of creating ScreenCloud, we’ve done a lot of ‘customer development’ interviews. That’s a fancy way of saying ‘we spoke to a lot of our potential customers’. A lot of the conversations we had surprised us: It turns out that a lot of people who are currently using digital signage, do so in a positively ancient way.

We won’t mention names, but in one of the world’s biggest advertising agencies, they update the content on the screens dotted around the office on a monthly basis. They have screens on a hinge, so you can pull them away from the wall. Why, you might ask? To access a DVD player that is zip-tied to the back of the television. To change from the old content to the new content, they simply take the old DVD out, and replace it with a new DVD, fresh off the DVD writer.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

The thing is; we get it. Anyone who is trying to design an easy to implement digital signage system could have designed this one: It’s reliable (DVD players can go on forever), it’s simple (Get your A/V guys to put together a new show reel, then burn it to a DVD), and it’s relatively cheap (DVDs and DVD players are inexpensive, like most other 20-year-old technology).

It goes hand in hand with the adage that if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. But, as we continued talking with a large number of customers, we discovered that just because it works, it doesn’t mean it’s not broken.

DVDs are cheap, sure, but they’re also a massive pain in the arse. Even the fastest DVD writers take a few minutes to write a new disc, and if you’re burning 50 discs, that’s going to take you the best part of a day.

More worryingly, it means that the content is only updated every month, which is ridiculous in most situations: As you go through the seasons, the holidays, and as news breaks, your content is going to change. Even if you work in a relatively slow business, you probably have more than a single message to communicate to your staff and customers throughout that month.

One of the customers we spoke to even suggested that the solution might be to use a USB thumb drive instead. That takes care of some of the problems (at least they can be reused, and most thumb drives have better capacity and higher speed than a DVD player), but it still involves someone physically plugging things into the television, and it means that live data is out of the question.

Think about it this way: Would you ever make business decisions on anything but the most current data? Of course you wouldn’t.

A better way of distributing content

If there was no better solution out there than DVDs and USB sticks, we’d cheer these entrepreneurial companies on, but the truth is that there is a better solution. A much better one, in fact. It’s called ScreenCloud Signage.

With ScreenCloud Signage, you can update content on anything from a single, to hundreds of screens, all with a click of a button. You can group screens together to show content in particular parts of your business, and you can schedule playlists down to the minute, to ensure that the most relevant content is shown at the most relevant times. Finally, you can use live data - like sales dashboards, viewer figures, or web data - to keep your digital signs relevant and up-to-the-second.

Give it a try, you’ll wonder why DVDs ever seemed like a good idea in the first place.

Playbooks

A farewell to DVDs and USB sticks

Why old digital signage is out.

In the process of creating ScreenCloud, we’ve done a lot of ‘customer development’ interviews. That’s a fancy way of saying ‘we spoke to a lot of our potential customers’. A lot of the conversations we had surprised us: It turns out that a lot of people who are currently using digital signage, do so in a positively ancient way.

We won’t mention names, but in one of the world’s biggest advertising agencies, they update the content on the screens dotted around the office on a monthly basis. They have screens on a hinge, so you can pull them away from the wall. Why, you might ask? To access a DVD player that is zip-tied to the back of the television. To change from the old content to the new content, they simply take the old DVD out, and replace it with a new DVD, fresh off the DVD writer.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

The thing is; we get it. Anyone who is trying to design an easy to implement digital signage system could have designed this one: It’s reliable (DVD players can go on forever), it’s simple (Get your A/V guys to put together a new show reel, then burn it to a DVD), and it’s relatively cheap (DVDs and DVD players are inexpensive, like most other 20-year-old technology).

It goes hand in hand with the adage that if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. But, as we continued talking with a large number of customers, we discovered that just because it works, it doesn’t mean it’s not broken.

DVDs are cheap, sure, but they’re also a massive pain in the arse. Even the fastest DVD writers take a few minutes to write a new disc, and if you’re burning 50 discs, that’s going to take you the best part of a day.

More worryingly, it means that the content is only updated every month, which is ridiculous in most situations: As you go through the seasons, the holidays, and as news breaks, your content is going to change. Even if you work in a relatively slow business, you probably have more than a single message to communicate to your staff and customers throughout that month.

One of the customers we spoke to even suggested that the solution might be to use a USB thumb drive instead. That takes care of some of the problems (at least they can be reused, and most thumb drives have better capacity and higher speed than a DVD player), but it still involves someone physically plugging things into the television, and it means that live data is out of the question.

Think about it this way: Would you ever make business decisions on anything but the most current data? Of course you wouldn’t.

A better way of distributing content

If there was no better solution out there than DVDs and USB sticks, we’d cheer these entrepreneurial companies on, but the truth is that there is a better solution. A much better one, in fact. It’s called ScreenCloud Signage.

With ScreenCloud Signage, you can update content on anything from a single, to hundreds of screens, all with a click of a button. You can group screens together to show content in particular parts of your business, and you can schedule playlists down to the minute, to ensure that the most relevant content is shown at the most relevant times. Finally, you can use live data - like sales dashboards, viewer figures, or web data - to keep your digital signs relevant and up-to-the-second.

Give it a try, you’ll wonder why DVDs ever seemed like a good idea in the first place.

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