In an enterprise license, blocks of seats are licensed for an upfront capital investment, and the ongoing operational cost is related to maintenance fees that are typically a fraction of SaaS fees, plus the IT costs of maintaining servers and a content distribution capability. It is wise to bring enterprise licensing into the discussion with large clients, and to understand options for that type of arrangement available in the marketplace.
Field service: Because digital signage involves electronics, occasional failures in the field will be a fact of life. Cheap devices tend to skimp on parts that fail most often, such as power supplies, so beware! While warranties will cover most equipment failures in the first one to three years, network downtime, truck rolls and depot stock can drive operational costs up. In situations where uptime is mission critical (for example, digital menu boards), redundancy and failover strategies are as essential as warranties.
It may be important to consider the use of multi-output players and to weigh the external media player against SoC options for mission critical applications. To keep truck rolls and tech time to a minimum, aim for high reliability, clever failover strategies and consider upgraded warranties in the acquisition process.
Upgrades: You can bet that two years into a new network, your customer will have developed new requirements that may demand more firepower than was designed into the initial equipment purchases. At a minimum, you should ensure that the software vendor could provide software upgrades and patches over the network. Hardware upgrades require more forethought.
Displays tend to have a longer useful life than media players, so once again, the lure of the SoC sales pitch comes at a cost: getting that extra firepower requires an entirely new unit, including the display. If your customer can foresee expanding requirements, it may be useful to have a separate media player or an OPS-based player-display set-up to ensure a simple upgrade path.
In a digital signage network, total cost of operation is separate from capital investments made to launch, yet is closely tied to those up-front decisions. Together they form the basis for total cost of ownership. Savvy integrators will partner with customers at the outset to help optimize both at the start and on an ongoing basis.
Ken Goldberg has spoken at Digital Signage Expo and will be a panel participant at the full-day DSE ONE New York Event on October 21st during Digital Signage Week. For more information or to register for DSE ONE click here.