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Opinion: It’s Not Just the Software, Stupid

Integrators and end-customers have been looking for the perfect CMS platform since the inception of digital signage – a selection process the invidis compass will bring enormous transparency to. But a software platform is not everything: an experienced and well-versed CMS expert a.k.a. system integrator is key to developing and delivering seamless digital experiences.

The invidis team is working tremendously hard to bringing transparency into the industry. Our vendor-agnostic CMS comparison tool (invidis software compass) will be launched with hundreds of global digital signage experts over in the course of two days at DSS Europe 2024. After two years of development the light at the end of the tunnel is becoming visible. We are looking forward to presenting and discussing the results in Munich (22-23 May).

Same, same but different and size matters

The CMS selection is often a more than painful vetting process, as most CMS platforms look alike. Every vendor, however, claims that their set of hundreds of features is what make their software offering unique and industry-leading. At second glance and hours of verification for each software, we see more differences than expected. Not only the age of the tech stack, the software architecture, the support of hardware platforms, and features differ widely, but also the ability to execute (organisation, financial strength, global footprint and vision). And client and project requirements come in a very wide range – not the market for “one size fits all” solutions. But many CMS are good enough for standard applications.

As long as the industry was dominated by smaller and medium-sized ISVs, many software developers were operating in the same financial bracket. But the emergence of larger market players (ISVs as well as integrators with their own platform) and the changing role of visual solution vendors as platform providers is changing the rules of the software game. Size will matter eventually – a large, global installed base with a few hundred thousands of active licenses, an eco-system of platform partners brings relevant economies of scale. Platform economies follow a winner-takes all principle – at least in theory.

An unfair advantage?

We believe there is room for smaller, innovative ISVs. They will continue to play an important role in digital signage as innovation driver and vertical specialist. And never underestimate the role of system integrators. Because the best software solution is useless with an incompetent integrator, while okay-ish CMS can be the perfect platform in the hands of an experienced integrator. The 20+ years history of digital signage is full of mediocre CMS solutions powering the best, most immersive, best converting, award-winning concepts.

But nobody wants to be caught in the middle, being just good-enough. For ISV’s there is no alternative to re-inventing, disrupting, and connecting.