Would you buy your digital signage from the Wizard of Oz?

It’s one of my favourite movie scenes – where Dorothy finally meets the Wizard of Oz.

A classic children’s story: Dorothy had been caught up in a tornado and found herself in a strange land called ‘Oz’. The only way to return home is to follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City where the all-powerful Wizard – the Wizard of Oz – would help her.

She had very high expectations, but what she discovers is that the Wizard of Oz is just a broken old man behind an impressive but fabricated facade. The ultimate ‘smoke and mirrors’. So, the wizard was great at marketing, but not so good at delivery.

The lessons from the Wizard of Oz are helpful for organisations looking for digital signage solutions today. Digital signage looks simple on the surface – how hard can it be to install screens – but if you dig a bit deeper – the story is way different. Where reliable content delivery is critical, where a digital signage network is large and complex or where security and compliance standards need to be met, closer evaluation of your provider can pay dividends. And it’s not just about installing a solution. Equally important is the support provided over a three to five year period so the value of your digital signage investment can be maximised.

In my experience, things can and do go wrong. And when they do, it’s not just about missed opportunities but potential brand damage. You need a partner with experience, a qualified team and processes that can deal with any issues that arise..

To help select a provider for digital media, my advice is to ask the following 10 important questions.

  1. Do they have a fully-manned 24/7 support line answered by ‘real people’ who are qualified to solve your problems?
  2. Will they do proactive monitoring of your network to prevent problems before they happen?
    And will the provider monitor and provide updates on the warranty status of all your hardware items and manage end of life options?
  3. Do they do staging and testing with the final content before installing screens on site?
  4. Look to the future. Your requirements and technology will inevitably change. Can the provider demonstrate that they are investing in continual improvement and new technology? Will they commit to providing advice and recommendations during your contract term? Do they offer the services you will need in the future?
  5. Do they carry an inventory of spare screens and accessories to switch out or repair if required?
  6. SLA’s
    Do they offer an SLA on screen uptime? It should be 99%+
    And do they offer an SLA on the content management system? It should be 99.9%+
  7. Look at the team behind the promises.
    How many people are dedicated to deployment and how many are dedicated to support? What is their experience? Forensically understand what they have actually delivered and what they currently support rather than accept on face value what they say they can do
  8. What geographical coverage do they have? Can they quickly deploy technicians to all your sites?
    Ask for evidence.
  9. Do they provide regular performance reporting on your screens, media player and uptime?
    Ask for a sample monthly Support report which summarizes all the cases, identifying thorough root cause analysis. Make sure you are confident that any of the identified problems won’t happen in your network.
  10. Does the provider accept full accountability and commit to being a single point of contact for all elements of the solution?
    Hardware – screens, accessories and media players; content management software; onsite installation and content creation, formatting, repurposing and deployment

An effective digital signage solution is not just a screen on a wall, the end game is delivery of content to customers, staff or the public and this requires careful orchestration to deploy and also to manage so there is no downtime or outages and that you are getting the maximum value from your investment.

Asking 10 questions will help you avoid the ‘Wizard of Oz’ providers and ensure you get the solution you are looking for. I suspect it would have been smarter for Dorothy to ask a few questions before she started walking down the yellow brick road.