By Mark Stanborough, Sales Director EMEA & APAC, MediaStar Systems
The sound of technology projects within corporate and financial services organisations grinding to a halt at the end of March was almost audible. From digital transformation plans to the roll-out of new networks, IT and AV directors were forced to put a hold on everything and quickly pivot to support employees working from home.
Notwithstanding the November lockdown, which is once again putting a spoke in commercial wheels, the corporate market is beginning to bounce back, and particularly if the project involves the delivery of live or recorded video content and digital signage.
The green shoots of recovery have coincided with an increase in employees returning to the office, and traders to their desks in the City of London, albeit on carefully calibrated shifts to ensure social distancing. Along with this comes the need to deliver clear and impactful safety guidelines.
Readdressing the use of screens
The huge screens that grace impressive reception areas in many offices are now often playing second-fiddle to portable displays just inside the entrance which utilise digital signage technology to reiterate important safety messages or run informational videos. IT and AV teams in financial services companies are readdressing the use of their vast networks of screens to keep employees informed about changes to internal corporate practices, whilst still giving them the option to stream videos, hold virtual meetings and access stored content, just as they always did.
Projects that were only part-completed earlier in the year have resumed, with a difference. In the last month, one of our customers specified that their screens should be split so market data could be delivered simultaneously with a live news feed. Access to news is as important right now as access to market information.
Technology to support new strategies
Being adaptable is the key to success in the pandemic-raddled corporate environment, which means technology must meet quickly shifting requirements. Budgets for AvoIP and digital signage are now beginning to be signed off again, but what organisations are looking for are solutions that can support their current and post-Covid strategies.
Among the visual communications features that are finding particular resonance are tickers and text boxes that allow information to be seen clearly without detracting from other content on the screen; fine-tuned search capabilities enabling text and images to be targeted at employees based on their geographical location and in their local language; and automated controls that will switch displays off and on without anyone needing to touch them – which has the added bonus of conserving energy when offices are not fully staffed.
Companies also expect their solutions to be flexible. The physical location of screens displaying digital content to meet current priorities is likely to change, but their impermanence is not an excuse for delivering a poor quality of content. This requires digital signage systems that are fit-for-purpose, scalable and deliver video, live TV streams, text and images to the highest standards on any screen. It is also important that as government and health advice changes, content can be dynamically amended to keep employees and visitors fully up to speed.
And to suit those businesses who want staff to be just as effective remotely as they are in the office, features such as ‘software remotes’ that allow digital signage administrators to control content and screens from their smartphones wherever they are, are invaluable. This type of feature also means that standard remote-control units no longer need to be handled at all minimising the risk of spreading the virus.
As the brakes begin to come off in the next few months, the value of strong messaging that can be enhanced with creative effects such as transitions, new fonts and visual effects will reinforce the measures that companies are taking to keep employees safe.
Managing the return of employees
Right now, organisations are planning how best they can manage a safe return to work and use the technology tools at their disposal. They are considering the dissemination of updates to staff, or the importance of delivering training, seminars and conferences that will be influential and memorable. Digital signage and AVoIP have an important role to play in enabling these objectives but for companies specifying new products to help them, they should ensure that the solution is built for purpose, feature-rich, and enables the pinpoint targeting of information on the basis of location, time or content – the right media to the right audience at the right time.