Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Onelan looking for digital signage VARs

CRN is running a story about UK digital signage maker Onelan, who has put out an open call to IT VARs who may be looking for a new product to add to their lineup. Onelan argues that their digital signage system is easy enough that practically any tech VAR can make money selling it, if only they'd try:

"IT resellers need very little training to sell our product," Dalzell said. "If a VAR wanted to dip its toe in the water with digital signage then our solution is about as easy as it gets.

"The smarter IT VARs realise that digital signage isn’t completely alien, it is just a system on a network. Instead of working with PC vendors, the VARs will have to form relationships with display vendors."
Right. Here's the truth of the matter for any IT VARs who may be considering entering the digital signage market, either as a supplier or reseller: it may sound easy on the surface, but depending on the exact angle you take, you may be fighting a very uphill battle. Why? Well, the biggest reasons will likely be your customers' lack of a business or ROI model, and a lack of ability to supply the signs with content. Whether you're focusing on schools, churches, public buildings or retail spaces, digital signs -- the actual electronic devices themselves -- represent only a fraction of the time, effort and money that go into making a signage network.

Want to deploy a retail or transit hub network and monetize it with ads? I hope you have a couple of people who have a LOT of experience selling advertising time. Thinking about a public works project that combines local business promotion with information display in schools or public buildings? Better check the ordinances, as many of these places won't allow for commercial posts, and you'll need to go through due process to get even a single screen installed. Or maybe your goal is to deploy church networks. While your initial installation might be budgeted for, the church may count on you to provide content updates, or technical support for making and uploading new content pieces.

Maybe content production and ad sales are areas that some IT VARs want to expand into, and in that case, digital signage could be a helpful addition to their product and service offerings. However, it's just as likely that many VARs looking for a new high-margin offering fail to recognize many of the ongoing challenges of deploying digital signage networks.

Past articles on this subject:
Can POS and AV integrators make the leap to digital merchandising?

Tags: digital signage VAR, digital signage, electronic signage, Onelan

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