Organizations around the world are investing heavily in digital displays to increase productivity, efficiency and customer engagement. AV and IT teams that understand the new technologies available on the market that have the opportunity to significantly boost the productivity of their organizations and reduce associated costs as they seek to deploy this visual information.
Did you know McDonald’s announced in August 2018 that it would spend $6 billion to add digital displays to more than 6,000 stores throughout the U.S. to increase efficiency, simplify processes and engage customers in new ways? This is just one example of the level of emphasis organizations are placing on improved visual communications.
To take maximum advantage of these opportunities, AV/IT teams should have a strong grasp of where improved application of visual communications can improve an organization’s productivity and reduce costs, what existing products today’s new solutions are replacing, and how to identify, deploy and maintain the optimal visual communication solution.
Where Organizations Are Deploying Screens
It wasn’t long ago that most screens in an organization were found on employees’ desktops and workstations. Today, that has changed. Retail and hospitality chains are often filled with displays to enhance customer engagement and self-service, conference rooms include displays for video conferencing, control rooms include walls of screens to improve security, training and huddle rooms include screens for information sharing and more.
Corporate IT teams are taking increasing responsibility for all of these screens and the visual applications displays on them. In many organizations, IT teams have taken over management traditional AV functions with the goal of improved integration and cutting costs.
Traditional Solutions No Longer Meet Organizational Needs
Organizations traditionally managed AV systems apart from the rest of the organization’s IT infrastructure. They delivered display applications and deployed content onto networked screens. Teams often built these systems on closed, proprietary hardware designed to serve a single purpose. Single-purpose hardware and software essentially required the organization to maintain multiple networks, with the redundancy and inefficiency inherent in that approach. IT teams were forced to learn, manage, secure, scale, and support numerous solutions simultaneously. In addition, these solutions often did not scale as organizations grew and lacked the security infrastructure critical in today’s threatening cybersecurity environment.
Enter: The Visual Networking Platform
There is a new architecture that centrally manages an organization’s visual communications needs, arming AV/IT teams and the integrators that support them, with the capability to serve all display functions within an organization – ranging from operations, to human resources, control centers and security and more. It’s the visual networking platform.
A visual networking platform architecture centrally manages all video and visual communication throughout an entire organization, integrating a diversity of complex AV applications over traditional IP networks. It enables and accelerates digital transformation by way of deployment, management and control of multiple visual display applications across the organization. AV/IT managers can manage an organization’s visual communications by means of an on-premise server solution, a fully cloud based solution, or a hybrid option combining cloud services with on-premise servers, depending on their needs and content applications.
When managed through a central, on-premise server, a video networking platform architecture should provide multiple different visual applications, delivering solutions to a wide range of the visual needs of an organization. The flexibility of the architecture and its set of features—including content scheduling, remote desktop sharing and virtual keyboard-video-mouse (KVM)-like interaction—should enable organizations to leverage video content for many applications: control rooms and security centers, meeting rooms, dashboards and KPI visualization, lobby and common areas, manufacturing and logistics, digital signage and more.
When managed in the cloud, the virtual networking platform architecture should eliminate any hardware requirements for visual applications. It should move the functionality of the on-premise server solution to the cloud, providing visual content management flexibility to AV/IT teams managing multiple sites. The cloud solution should also include a secure interface that enables remote access from a browser to manage all visual content in real-time.
To further improve efficiency and reduce costs, the visual networking platform architecture includes an app that loads onto smart signage displays and replaces thin clients, media players, cables, extenders and other hardware typically required to display content on screens throughout an organization. The app should include features such as zones, scheduling, cloud storage space, display synching for video walls, and more. Content is delivered directly to the display from the network.
High-quality visual networking platforms should support display video up to 8K resolution and in on-premise server configurations, the server should support up to 100 screens.
AV/IT teams should be able to combine different visual networking platform capabilities to meet their distinct needs. For example, they should be able to:
- Deploy an on-premise solution with or without the app
- Deploy a cloud-based solution with or without the app
- Deploy the app with neither the on-premise or cloud-based visual networking platform solution
- Deploy the app with both the on-premise and cloud-based solution
However, organizations will gain greater benefit by deploying the visual networking architecture at both the central management point and at the edge.
Visual Networking Platforms Integrate All Video/Image Needs in a Single Architecture
The core benefit of a video networking platform architecture is the ability for IT teams to centrally manage, disseminate and maintain all video/image content. Adding new applications becomes simple, since the architecture is already in place. Among the most frequent end-use applications of visual networking platforms include:
Lobby and commons signage – Create an immersive experience for customers and vendors as they arrive at an organization, briefing or demo center.
Digital signage – Push out advertising, promotions and marketing to customers and others through stores, malls, billboards and smart city displays. Internally, HR and other teams can share information with employees.
Meeting rooms – Both within a single location or with multiple locations, a visual networking platform architecture facilitates sharing of all types of information.
Control rooms and corporate security – Monitor operations and mission-critical activities with a range of sensors and display key data for effective and fast decision making.
Manufacturing, operations and logistics centers – These areas depend on accurate and near real-time visualization of supply chain, logistics and similar data.
Visual Networking Platforms Represent an 80/40 Solution
Many organizations have lived by the 80/20 rule, that goes something like, “80 percent of our income comes from 20 percent of our customers,” or “80 percent of our sales come from 20 percent of the sales team,” and so on. Visual networking platforms do the 80/20 rule one better. A well-designed, deployed and maintained visual networking platform can improve operating efficiency by up to 80 percent and reduce total cost of ownership by up to 40 percent. These numbers should make any organization consider a visual networking platform for their organization’s video and images.
John Marshall serves as the CEO of Userful, one of the world’s leading providers of video communication solutions. John has more than 25 years’ experience building innovative, market leading organizations. Prior to Userful, John served in a range of startup leadership roles for companies including Cirrent, which creates reliable and secure Wi-Fi connectivity for IoT; senior vice president of sales and marketing at LILEE Systems, a provider of enterprise connectivity and always-on mobile broadband; CMO and VP/GM for SkyCross, a leader in 4G/5G technology; and vice president for SiBEAM, an innovator in wireless transmission of HD video. John earned a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University, and a master’s degree in marketing and venture finance from the University of Michigan Business School. For more information, please visit www.userful.com.
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