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invidis confidential 13|24: Five Truths about Signage Software

Customers don’t care as much you would think and digital signage is, in fact, more than just software. Here are some universal truths about digital signage software that both our invidis compass and DSSE 2024 have revealed.

When it comes to digital signage software, we tend to overcomplicate things. There are important challenges, yes. And those include missing standards, modern software architecture, and IT security. However, a realization that surfaced during last week’s Digital Signage Summit in Munich is that the industry sometimes forgets the underlying principles that decide whether a software solution will be successful or not.

Here are some hard facts that have prevailed over the years:

Principle 1: Customers couldn’t care less.

Software is slowly taking up more space in the digital signage value chain. That is a fact most would agree on. When it comes to the CMS, however, software providers tend to overrate its importance. This statement repeated itself during discussions in last week’s Digital Signage Summit in Munich.

Customers, in fact, do not care about one solution having a perfectly intuitive user interface or hundreds of features at their disposal that they are never going to use. That is overgeneralization, of course, but even industry veterans like Peter Critchley from Trison, Andi Bohli from Imaculix or Jeffrey Weitzman from Navori have argued that the industry tends to be a little too focused on itself.

In the end, customers just want a CMS that works. More often than not, this will be a mainstream solution with sufficient scale and support. Or simply what their integrator suggests to them.

Principle 2: It’s not just the software.

That brings us to the next fact: digital signage is not just the software. Peter Critchley from Trison UK said it best: “Saying the software is digital signage, is like saying paper when you’re referring to a book.” A CMS is what transfers the content onto the screen, it’s the bridge.

And this bridge needs to be in unison with the entire infrastructure: the hardware, the operating system, as well as the ERP, CRM, and other backend systems. This means documented, standard APIs are essential but also emphasizes the role of the integrator: the best software is useless if the entire system is not up to standard. In turn, a mediocre CMS can do, if the system runs well.

Principle 3: The market doesn’t need another all-rounder.

This is something our friend and partner Dave Haynes from Sixteen-Nine is never tired of repeating: If a software doesn’t have anything to set it apart, it will drown amongst the hundreds of applications that have a broad, general offering. According to invidis market research, those that are doing well and will continue to do well, are:

  • Niche specialists
  • Vertical specialists
  • Platform partners
  • Friction removers

This goes hand in hand with the next principle:

Principle 4: Digital signage is not the market for “one-size-fits-all”.

Wanting to deliver a digital signage solution that speaks to all users is the same flawed vision Elon Musk touted for X, formerly Twitter, back in 2023: using only one app for checking the weather, reading the news, and ordering Sushi. Instead of spurring excitement, his vision was quickly dismissed by the tech community, with Bloomberg analysts declaring that nobody needed a super app (at least outside of the very protected Chinese market).

Client and project requirements come in a very wide range. This is one of the reasons why the invidis consulting team took on the quest of developing the freshly launched software compass: to help each user and integrator find the best CMS for their specific use-case. One of the features the compass provides is an independent benchmarking of the different solutions out there. You can find out more about the compass in this detailed article:

Business critical applications, like railway systems for instance, have entirely different demands than small coffeeshop chains with limited human resources. And none of them want or need an “everything CMS”.

Principle 5: Scale matters.

Apart from specialization, scale is another factor deciding whether a CMS will survive or not. Keeping the tech stack up to standard and maintaining the software can only be financed with a sufficiently sized installed base. We are talking about a few hundred thousand active licenses.

On top of that, the emergence of larger market players, as well as visual solution manufacturers pushing into the software market makes it more difficult for smaller ISVs to prevail. The digital signage software market is headed towards a platform economy that follows a “the winner takes it all” principle – an economy where scale does matter.

On another note: AVI-SPL expands into Latin America

One of the global top 3 ProAV and digital signage integrators is getting even bigger: AVI-SPL announced the acquisition of ICAP Global, one of the market leaders in Latin America and Spain. We’ve explained what this means for AVI-SPL and the global ProAV integration industry:

And: Starbucks to test DooH-dishwashers and Panasonic selling its projector business

Starbucks just started an interesting move towards sustainability: In its branches across South Korea the coffee chain rolled out LG’s innovative mini dishwasher, LG MyCup. Unveiled at CES 2024, this self-service instore dishwasher allows customers to clean their own reusable cups and thermos – complemented by a DooH display. Read more in this article:

Panasonic announced plans this week to exit the high-end projector market. We have summarized everything that is currently known about the deal in this article:

Until next week,

Antonia Hamberger