When companies are mapping their unified communications strategy, they may not consider including digital signage as part of it. That could well be shortsighted as the technology can be effective in communicating important messages to employees in all sorts of scenarios, from CEO mandates to manufacturing quotas.
At one time digital signage meant simple messages scrolling across a screen, like the news ticker in Times Square or ads at the gas pump urging customers to come inside and buy coffee and hot dogs. Today those simple displays are largely gone, replaced by screens that show crystal clear video (say, that hot dog looks pretty good).
Clearly, digital signage has grown up, so much so that it does indeed have a place in your UC plans. Even Wikipedia includes digital signage under the UC umbrella, as explained in this really long sentence:
In its broadest sense, UC can encompass all forms of communications that are exchanged via a network to include other forms of communications such as Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) and digital signage communications as they become an integrated part of the network communications deployment and may be directed as one-to-one communications or broadcast communications from one to many.
Using Digital Signage for Corporate Communications
One effective use case for digital signage is in corporate communications, to deliver messages of varying types, says David Safaii, Senior Vice President of Burstpoint (recently acquired by Avaya), which provides digital signage solutions. Maybe it’s a message to a specific group of employees, such as the sales or finance team. A manager can deliver messages live or record them for broadcast later to his team, delivered on the device of their choosing. Alternatively, a CEO can deliver a message to the entire company, Safaii says, again delivered on a mix of TV screens in rooms throughout the building and to remote individuals on their computer screens, tablets or even smart phones.
Navigation systems provider Garmin recently signed on for a digital signage deployment with Armscreen Digital Solutions that will be used for corporate communications. It will include a series of screens installed at company headquarters. As reported by DigitalSignageToday.com:
The network of screens will be used to communicate a wide range of internal messaging, including business updates, internal events, employee awards to charity initiatives, as well as job opportunities and Garmin's internal referral scheme.
"Employee communications is very important for us as a business," Gary Morgan, Garmin's director of human resources for EMEA, said in the announcement. … "We hope that, by introducing this modern day noticeboard to our workplace, we'll be able to effectively engage with our team and continue to create a sense of community amongst employees."
Digital signage has long been used in retail environments to let customers know about promotions throughout the store. When the technology is married to a larger UC strategy it can mean having sales managers deliver messages to staff in each store before they open to get everyone on the same page about any special promotions, to recognize sales leaders and the like. “It’s an effective way to keep staff informed as well as engaged,” Safaii says. Once those meetings are done, the same signs can update to show today's specials or other items of interest.
Digital Signage Brings UC to the Factory Floor
Another effective use case is in manufacturing, where employees on the factory floor typically aren’t using computers. Digital signage provides a way to tie them in with the rest of the company with respect to corporate communications, safety information and more. As DigitalSignageToday.com reports:
Company communication is also a major challenge on the plant floor. Considering that 40 percent of workers don’t have access to email, plants often rely on word-of-mouth and bulletin boards to get their message across. This is not very effective or efficient. Digital signage placed away from the production floor where workers take breaks, socialize and eat has proven to effectively communicate company updates, reminders and messages. Employee contests and event highlights can be broadcast to increase worker morale, supporting overall the team atmosphere that foremen work so hard to achieve.
Imagine an industrial plant where management wants to communicate vital information to hundreds of workers. Perhaps it's production quotas vs. actual performance; perhaps it's mean time between accidental employee injuries; perhaps it's delivery information regarding vital components that are en route. In all of these instances — and others too numerous to recount here — digital signage has the ability to convey to a workforce important information that is vital to employees maintaining a safe, efficient environment.
The Role of Digital Signage Role in a Call Center UC Strategy
Call center personnel are some of the most active users of UC technology since by nature they are communicating with others all day, whether by phone, email, text or social media. Digital signage is a natural fit, as it can be used to let agents know which customers are in queue, calls that need to be escalated, call statistics and the like.
On a lighter note, it can also be used to keep morale up. In call centers that must operate 24x7x365, that can be a significant issue for employees who are missing important holidays or events while they’re at work. The call center reporting company Inova Solutions says some of its clients broadcast events such as the Super Bowl to call center employees to keep up morale. While that may fall outside the UC umbrella, it still makes good business sense.