Digital signage breakdowns in Gatwick, Tehran and Munich show that systems are now ‘business-critical’, said speakers at Digital Signage Summit Europe.

‘Gatwick failure shows digital signage is business-critical’'

When London’s Gatwick’s Flight Information Displays were cut off the internet before the pandemic, the airport came close to closure, and was only kept open by employees using whiteboards and marker pens for seven hours.

When passenger information systems at a railway station in Tehran ,Iran were hacked, similar challenges arose as the hackers posted fake delay and cancellation messages.

And when order terminals failed at a McDonald’s in Munich, Germany, the restaurant closed altogether.

These three scenarios show that digital signage – an industry embracing content, software and hardware – has become business-critical and no longer a nice-to-have.

That was the message of an opening keynote speech by Florian Rotberg and Stefan Schieker of invidis consulting at this week’s Digital Signage Summit Europe, in Munich, Germany.

“Business critical IT systems are nothing new per se. Just think about check-out systems in retail or manufacturing control systems. However, what is new is that more and more digital signage systems have moved from silo applications to business-critical functions,” wrote Schieker in an individis digital signage yearbook to be be published next week.

The consultancy has identified five key components to a business-critical digital signage solution: vertical insights and process integration; orchestration and DXPs (digital experience platforms); data and backend integration; data privacy and IT security; and remote management and operations.

Once an integrator has understood a client’s key business drivers and processes – the first of these elements – it is not always plain sailing. “Typically there is a lot of resistance to change and not all digital ideas are welcomed,” said Schieker.

Established structures and ways of working can also make it difficult to ‘see’ the enhancement potential of digital solutions. “Often this leads to bad compromises, and a lot of the benefits of digitising processes are already lost in this first phase,” Schieker added.

But if digital signage does take over a critical function as part of the digitalisation process, it naturally becomes business-critical.

Typically, digital signage is only part of the customer experience, even when business-critical. But the consultancy argues that the ultimate goal of an organisation’s digital journey should be to created a unified platform to manage all digital interactions – a so-called Digital Experience Platform (DXP).

“At the time being, there are very few DXPs that can handle digital signage,” the invidis yearbook says. But there is an opportunity for market players to create a Digital Signage Experience Platform (DSXP), handling all digital signage related interactions, that can be linked to larger DXPs. And if at least one of the touchpoints integrated into a DSXP is business-critical then the full DSXP acquires this characteristic too.

Many of today’s digital signage solutions have little or no overlap with core business platforms handling business-critical data, like ERP systems, PIM platforms, order and payment handling systems or production and logistics control systems.

But in business-critical digital signage systems, flawless APIs are a core element, enabling integration with customer systems. Here, “digital signage software platforms that are built with an API-first approach definitely have an advantage over older architectures with a custom-built API,” the consultancy says.

With APIs to core business systems, data security becomes a must-have feature for digital signage software systems. Typically, customers require an ISO 27001 certification, and some add their own IT and security penetration tests.

Few software providers have ISO 27001 certification as of today but this is increasingly becoming a requirement in larger, more international digital signage tenders. And, as more and more customer data is handled by digital signage systems, data privacy rules must also be observed.

Business critical solutions also need to be failure-proof. If a failure occurs, it has to be spotted instantaneously and in most cases it should be possible to fix it remotely. This requires full remote device management capabilities that extend beyond traditional monitoring and remote access.

“In most cases, operating a business-critical digital signage network will require some form of network operations centre (NOC),” the consultancy says. “For most digital signage operators, this is a step change in comparison to the service operations they are running today.”

Reference : AVinteractive