Blog | When to Consider a Fully Managed Service

By STRATACACHE Team

Oct 28, 2021

Many customers initially plan to manage digital signage content themselves, but after they see what it takes — the work and specialized skills — many frequently choose a fully managed service. This article will help you understand what it takes to manage content distribution and hardware, so your business can make an educated decision about whether to take on this responsibility with an in-house staff.

What Do Content Management Requirements Look Like at Scale?

The best way to understand content management is to start with what it is not. That often means the content itself.

What digital signage managed service does not include

Your business already spends a lot of time and effort on building your brand. You are the experts of the look and feel that you want to achieve. Managed services allow you to maintain focus on that expertise by executing the technical implementation and distribution of that content. These two areas of practice complement each other to enhance customer experience.

Let’s start with what you provide. A managed service does not attempt to recreate your brand, or strategy, or the content that you want to display on screens.

  • Brand voice
  • Brand creative
  • Look and feel
  • Menu content
  • Creative assets
  • Content strategy

We are all familiar with the first five assets on this list because marketing teams have produced these for years. But content strategy is also important because it will help you measure success and optimize content. Whether you work internally or externally, you want to set clear goals for your content that are aligned with the capabilities of your digital signage platform.

What is a fully managed service for digital signage?

Assuming that you have already installed a digital signage platform, what is required to take those creative assets and apply them in service of the content strategy?

Let’s start with a single location.

Structured Content

The first step is to ingest and format content. This starts with structuring the content, like you would any kind of data.

Why is structured content so important? Structure allows that content to be reused and reformatted so that assets can display well in a variety of relevant contexts. This is extremely important when extending an eCommerce environment into a physical location because you want to be able to display items in a variety of contexts and backgrounds.

Experiment and Optimize Content!
Even if you do not have purchases in mind, structured content is a solid foundation that you can grow from. With structured content, you can experiment with different formations, background colors, orientations, and more, so that you can optimize.

For example, you might give us a picture of a soft drink. But we need to be able to display that content alongside any sandwich that you want to sell it with, and we need to be able to display it at a variety of different sizes.

Structured content allows us to reuse that one photo in all of these contexts. Do you want to attract viewers to your sale of the day? Try a contrasting background right in their line of sight. Need to sell more chicken on a hot day? Try pairing that chicken sandwich with a tall soft drink and a blue background. With structured content, these sort of changes can be programmed to happen on the fly given the right context.

Reuse Assets to Save Bandwidth
Let’s go back to the above scenario but without structured content. To make that change, someone would need to work within a photo editor, change out the background, export it, and then send it to the player. This would require the transfer of another high resolution image, even though 99% of that payload would be the same information.

Structured content is reusable. The product exists as a separate entity in our cms, so we can make these changes on the fly with metadata, reducing the bandwidth to a level that even a dial-up connection could manage.

Why Structure Your Creative Assets?

  • Save bandwidth at every location by only downloading one asset for reuse in a variety of contexts and configurations
  • Save your creative team time because they do not need to create these variations themselves
  • Make content easily searchable, accessible, and maintainable over time

At STRATACACHE, we deploy digital signage platforms at scale. For deployments of any significant size, structured content becomes paramount to efficiency. Many of our competitors do not support structured content, so they do not discuss this aspect of their platforms. Ask them about structured content before you make your final decision.

Digital Signage Content Distribution

Fundamentally, content distribution is the art of delegating:

  • What content to display
  • On what screens
  • At the right time
  • To the right guest

Once content is structured appropriately, it is ready for distribution across the network. We already introduced this subject in the last section because how you distribute content is determined by whether that content is structured, or not.

Structured content empowers businesses to add relevancy to their content with pre-programmed business rules and cases.

Dayparting is one of the simplest cases, so let’s start there.

Dayparting segments your content by time of day. Like a broadcast television channel, you would daypart your content to display content that is more relevant to your audience at the time of day they enter the location.

The dayparting concept is possible to apply by hour, by minute, or by season. Who wants a hot pumpkin spice latte on a hot summer day? Program your content distribution to advertise cold beverages instead!

Dayparting is just one example of the many possible business rules you can use to add relevancy. Another might be recognition of a customer with their loyalty application in close proximity. Program the content to change to the approximate time until their order is ready, or show them products that they might find interesting based on previous purchases.

These rules increase relevance to the customer, so that they have a more satisfying, meaningful experience.

Technical Support for Hardware

Now that we’re done with the fun part, it’s time to get into the nitty gritty details that make technology work.

Talent

People consume digital signage content differently than traditional print. Technical content structure is also different and requires specialized design skills, which incorporate both modularity and technical knowledge in order to incorporate external data, dynamic features, and more into a compelling visual experience.

Digital signage is a specialized skill and design language.

Hardware Connectivity and Maintenance

Digital signage will last decades. Over that timeframe, you want to be sure the hardware continues to run smoothly and professionally. This means you want to take a proactive approach to monitoring, so that you can deal with potential problems before they lead to a black screen.

This takes expertise, skill, and the right monitoring tools.

Software support and firmware

Digital signage software changes every six months, just like your iOS or Android operating system. This means that updates need to be managed, so that you do not experience any downtime.

Networking standards
Networking standards define the rules for communicating data to ensure the interoperability of networking technologies and processes. When you deploy technology from multiple vendors, you need to ensure that they can continue to communicate with each other. As a managed solution provider, we take care of that for you.

Security compliance
Rules and regulations governing digital signage must be adhered to on a technical level. Your managed services provider will take care of that for you.

Service and support
When any of the above goes wrong, or you just want to learn how to achieve loftier goals with digital signage, who do you turn to? You want to have that expertise available to you when you need it.

Physical deployment: Digital signage installation
Professional installation is important. When done correctly, the solution will work as it should, and it can be achieved in small time windows.

Multiply that Effort across Locations…
We have just introduced the managed services profile for a single location. Now consider what that looks like across 10,000 locations worldwide.

When you stop to consider that it might easily take your organization 35 full-time hires to manage an enterprise digital signage deployment at scale, does a fully managed service start to sound more cost-effective?

STRATACACHE Offers the Best Fully Managed Service that Can Scale to Any Size

If you are starting to consider a fully managed service, then please give us a call. We can help you achieve economies of scale while maintaining simplicity in your organization.

More questions about digital signage? Let us know!