I originally wasn't going to post anything about this article by BroadSign posted over at aka.tv. Over the years aka has been a pretty reliable source for industry news, and if they want to slip an occasional advertorial from one of their biggest sponsors in, I'm ok with that. I'm a businessman, I can understand some firms might need to do those kinds of things from time to time, and I can filter them out, just like most people.
But after the fourth or fifth email from somebody saying "OMG OMG DIDYOUSEETHIS!?!" and acting as if I should be concerned or offended, I've decided that it'll be faster and more efficient to just post something now so I can point to it later :)
The article in question asks whether a Linux- or Windows-based technology platform is best for digital signage. WireSpring and a few others make Linux-based stuff. Pretty much everybody else uses Windows. Consequently, we do need to defend our decision on occasion, mostly to technical folks who know just enough to be dangerous. But rather than discuss technical merit or the pros and cons of the different kernel architectures, etc., I've found it much better to approach this discussion from a business perspective. So here it is, the secret sauce, the reason why this argument should be irrelevant by now:
Digital signage should NOT be approached as a tech project.
If you're an IT or AV guy, this might sound a bit disheartening, and you might not even believe it. Sure, there are computers and networks and screens and whatnot, but the way one sells a digital signage network into a venue (in my experience at least) is to explain what the screen can do, not how it works. Most people, deep down, couldn't care less whether their media players run Windows or Linux. What they do care about, are things like:
- Will it play content the way I want it to?
- Can I set it up to look different at different times and in different places?
- Can I control it remotely?
- Will it be stable and reliable - can I count on 24/7 playback?
- Will it be secure, or will it get infected with viruses and spyware if I'm not keeping an eye on it?
- Am I going to need to upgrade it?
- What other 3rd party software/services will I need to make it work?
- Is it affordable and cost-effective, both up-front and considering lifetime TCO?
- Do I have to worry about licensing?
It's hard enough making a compelling digital signage network that's full of amazing content and meets a bunch of high-level business objectives. Throwing in capacity planning, server scalability, failover redundancy, player OS upgrades, anti-virus subscriptions and security patching just doesn't make any sense to me.
Would-be commenters beware: I make judicious use of the "delete comment" button. I'm not going to censor anybody's opinion, but if you post an obvious flame or an advertisement, it's going to get dropped in a hurry.
Tags: digital signage software, Linux, Windows