Moving Digital Signage forward with Microsoft Infrastructure
In my previous article, I discussed reasons why Microsoft has managed to break new barriers and grown to be one of the most valuable companies in the world.It shows the tremendous momentum of software & cloud services. Microsoft Office 365 and their Azure Platform - infrastructure and cloud services - provide a joint value still to be discovered and explored by many. We in Databeat have decided to dive deep into this and invest heavily in a conceptual change based on what we believe will shape the future of digital signage; eco-system integration.
Here are three reasons why;
#1 - Privacy
Reasons concerning security has already been discussed, but closely related to security is privacy.
A key part of a screen publishing platform is obviously the users. They sign up, log in and provide various details that normally is stored in the system repository. But do we need to store data such as phone number, title, business address, etc? It is indeed practical, but why bother our customers and users to add this data over and over again and force them to maintain it yet another place.
We much prefer that our customers add and maintain their data in one single place, and not for every application and service they subscribe to, as it increases security, quality and user satisfaction. Why even risk storing their data? If we do not store names, passwords, addresses, phone numbers and any other information of value (ie to malicious hackers), our database is less valuable to break into. Isn't it impossible to steal something we don't have?
As another one of those vendors, we are more than happy to let eco-system vendors, like Microsoft, Google or Amazon provide such services with the required quality and security so that we can retrieve it from them when needed. They have systems, competence and capacity to do so in an evermore hostile internet environment, where hackers of all sorts are keen to test skills. These vendors are required to let users decide what information to share and what not to share, and they are under intense scrutiny to provide secure and stable services, so in this sense, we can trust them.
#2 - Collaboration
Another development of future impact for digital signage is that of information sharing, collaboration, and relevant tools and processes. We genuinely believe that phone calls, texts, meetings, e-mail, spreadsheets, and documents are less efficient than the potential we see in new collaboration tools and processes, such as Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, Flow, and others.
We see that an increasingly growing number of customers are using digital signage not with one or two centralized users as before, but many more. Screen communication is about to become an integral part of business collaboration and information sharing, especially to reach out to the many employees with no daily access to computers.
So to stay current, Digital Signage vendors should integrate and harness the power of clever collaboration tools seamlessly to become integral parts of their customers business processes.
#3 - Business Intelligence
My tech weak-spot was always Business Intelligence, I simply love the few good numbers with which one can measure performance and development, good or bad. But identifying these few numbers, and to ensure that they are relevant and represent the truth is very complicated. It requires business and technical expertise as well as brilliant tools to identify, extract and present these numbers.
Should these tools be digital signage tools? Absolutely not. Instead, we believe in integration, not at the application level, but at the infrastructure level. We have done this by integrating login, authentication and user management processes with Office 365 (and soon Google G-Suite) for reasons already mentioned, but equally significant is that this also gives our users access to the wealth of information and tools now available.
One interesting example is Microsoft Power BI - a Gartner Group magic Quadrant leader - where top right is "the best", where completeness of vision and ability to execute are the two determining factors.
So with such great tools available as a plugged-in digital signage tool, who need to make anything themselves? This kind of Infrastructure integration allows us to harness the power and flexibility of fantastic tools such as Power BI (and others in the future).
Users can choose a world-class tool to find, select, extract, calculate and present these values and graphs and publish Power BI dashboards or tiles to Office 365 user groups at their own discretion when linked and setup, new data would be available to all relevant screens automatically and immediately.
As the leader of Office tools (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PowerBI, etc) we believe that Microsoft infrastructure integration - in particular- is key to the future of digital signage. We do look forward to more 3rd party vendors (ie other BI tools, collaboration, and presentation tools, etc) making this integration. It will enable their content to be published much easier to screens efficiently.
They can focus on doing their tool excellent and digital signage vendors can focus on the publishing and operational part of displaying the content in time and place.