Why Your Business Needs a Digital Signage System

EPISODE 103 | Guest: Debbie DeWitt, marketing communications manager for Visix

No matter what size organization you have, business digital signage is a necessary tool to engage employees, increase their productivity and further your business goals. This is just as true with a hybrid workplace as it is for someplace where everyone is on site all the time.

In this episode, we talk about how digital signage can help unify a disparate workforce, enhancing their interactions with your company and reminding them that they’re still part of a team.

  • Explore the difference between business digital signage and retail signage
  • Hear different benefits for different sized organizations
  • Learn how to include remote workers
  • Understand how localization makes your content relevant
  • Discover how simple managing a digital signage system can be

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For more ideas, get our free white paper: Employee Engagement in the Digital Workplace


Derek DeWitt: If you were going to buy something for your company that could boost employee engagement, streamline workflows, entice customers, and save money and prevent waste, then you’d buy it, wouldn’t you? Well, business digital signage can do all of that. And to prove what I’m talking about, I’ll be speaking with Debbie DeWitt, marketing communications manager for Visix. Hi, Deb.

Debbie DeWitt: Hi, Derek.

Derek DeWitt: Thanks for talking to me today, Deb, and thank you everybody out there for listening to this episode of Digital Signage Done Right. Don’t forget you can subscribe to this podcast and follow along by reading the transcript on the Visix website, Visix.com/Resources/Podcasts.

So, we’re talking about business digital signage, which is a little bit different than what maybe a lot of people would think of when they think of digital signs.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, I mean most people encounter digital signage in retail. You know, you see it at the mall or at the airport or in a restaurant, and they may have seen it in a college campus or at their bank. But digital signage for business is a totally different animal. It’s got really different goals, different content, different success measures, and it’s really becoming more common in companies. But there’s still some people who just aren’t convinced they need it.

Derek DeWitt: The first objection I could think of today would be, look, I’ve got a hybrid workforce; I’ve got half or more of my people working from home, half or more of the time. And digital signs really only work for people in the physical location. So why should I do this?

Debbie DeWitt: Well, that’s actually one of the reasons I wanted to cover business digital signage today, ’cause that’s an exact question we’ve heard. Which is, you know, if I have fewer people in the building every day, why do I need these screens? I’ll just say that I believe the worst thing you can do as your workforce spreads out is to pull back on your communications.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah. A lot of people think, oh well, we’ll just use email now, or hey, we have Slack, or hey, we have Teams. But just ’cause you have fewer people in the office doesn’t mean you have no people in the office. Even if they’re not physically in the office, they’re kind of in the office.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. And like you said, they’re actually on site, you know? So the last thing you want is, okay, let’s say I used to have a hundred people here now they’re, you know, hot desking or whatever you want to call it, they’re doing a hybrid workforce thing. And so, I’ve got 50 people here, or even 20 people here. You don’t want ’em walking into black screens. Or worse, you don’t want ’em walking in and seeing like the same stuff that was up there last time they came in the office two weeks ago or even one week ago.

And you know, you don’t want them spending their time trying to catch up on what’s been going on at headquarters while I’ve been working at home. You know, walking around doing water cooler talk, going back, digging through the, I don’t know, 7000 emails they got, because we all now work from home and get inundated with email.

The other thing is that corporate culture right now is totally morphing. By having people in the office and outside of the office, the culture game is a lot harder. I mean, it really is, to build that culture. And so, so a lot of people think digital signs are only good inside the building, but like with our software, that’s not true. You can actually use the same messaging on those screens as you put on your internet or something, so that the whole workforce is seeing the same messaging, which helps build that culture, it helps unite the hybrid workforce.

And you know, it, I will say for people who are like, I don’t know that we need this anymore, it makes no sense to, you know, turn off a tool that you’re already using. You know, it might take a little more effort, but it’s actually very well worth it.

Derek DeWitt: Okay, but what if I don’t have digital signage, and I find myself in this hybrid workforce scenario, why should I get it?

Debbie DeWitt: Well, there are lots of benefits and you’re not gonna believe this, but I’ve listed them out. It depends on, it kinda depends on the type of company and you know, how big your company is, but it’s still, it’s all about employee engagement. It’s all about all of those things you listed off on why wouldn’t you want it. You still have a workforce, and they are still coming to your building, maybe not as often, but they’re still doing it and it’s all part of communications.

Derek DeWitt: Right. And you certainly don’t wanna kind of just do this kind of like, oh, I’m only interested in communicating to the employees if they’re all here. You know, there’s 20 people who are showing up, they’re showing up.

Debbie DeWitt: Exactly. And like I said, and we can talk about this a little more, but you know, we have an HTML5 player that lets you take those same messages that are on the screens in the office and send them to the people who are working at home. So, whether you’re there, whether you’re not there, you still get the same messaging. You get the same communications; you get the same engagement; you know, the same activities and events. So everybody feels like they’re on the same page.

Derek DeWitt: Okay, so let’s start off thinking small business, a hundred or fewer employees. Look, we have email, we have intranet, and we have a bulletin board in the break room. And I just don’t have that many people. So why do I need business digital signage?

Debbie DeWitt: Well, for any size business, the main benefit, as I said again, is employee engagement. You know, we’ve published lots of stats, you’ve written a lot of it, and you’ve done a lot of podcasts on how employee engagement boosts efficiency, morale, it reduces turnover, it helps your bottom line. And I think a big thing right now is that there’s a lot of turnover going on in the labor market. And so, you really have to keep those employees engaged, informed, happy. It makes them more productive, but it also is a good retention tool.

Derek DeWitt: Right. I mean, there are studies, so many studies that show that engaged workers are happier and they’re more productive. They obviously stick around longer. And they just contribute more to the organization. Whereas disengaged, even highly paid disengaged employees, just don’t.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. And you know, this can even be a recruiting tool. A lot of workers expect companies of any size to be modern, be collaborative, have technology in place before they’ll even come on board. So, I’m definitely not saying that if you have a 10-person office, you need six screens to talk to them. But you know, when you get into the, you know, even 40, 50 people, it all depends on the business, but you know, that’s still a lot of people to communicate with, and you don’t wanna just inundate them with emails.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah, we’re all sick of emails, frankly. We get way too much email even today. And yeah, I know intranets are sort of an alternative to that, but you can’t be sure that everybody looks at it every day. I know I’m supposed to, and yet, I sometimes forget, you know?

Debbie DeWitt: Don’t tell your boss!

Derek DeWitt: Oh, uh, okay!

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, having screens around the office means you put that information in front of people. It’s very hard to ignore that way. And, you know, we’re all used to looking at screens all the time.

Derek DeWitt: Right.

Debbie DeWitt: And I did wanna say, you mentioned a bulletin board, which, you know, it’s sad but it’s true, bulletin boards in the break room. But you know, it’s probably covered in outdated flyers. And digital signs update automatically. The old messages fall off automatically. Data updates, events update, they all do it automatically. So, you’re saving a lot of time also as opposed to that bulletin board.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah. And you’re also saving the time and resources to, you know, design, I don’t know, just even a Word document that says whatever the piece of information is, print it, photocopy it, stick it up. You know, it’s just, it’s a whole thing and, it just takes up an enormous amount of resources and time. What’s the point of all that? We don’t want to throw that ink covered paper in, even in the recycling, you know, fills in the trash. It’s just a pain in the neck.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, save the trees.

Derek DeWitt: Save the trees. Save the ink.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, I mean emails take time. You know, all employee communications, anyone who’s ever had to craft an email that’s going to every employee, you know, you need to read through that multiple times, you know, even if it’s the slightest thing.

Derek DeWitt: Okay. So, are there benefits for scaling up? If we’re a larger company, you know, 100, 200, 300, 400 employees, are there extra benefits for us?

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think that, you know, the ROI on the cost of a signage system actually goes down the more employees you’re reaching. And the more employees you have, the more challenging it can be to reach all of them and communicate consistently. Especially like in a hybrid situation like you were talking about. And you know, the larger the business, the harder it can be to keep everyone on the same page. And again, reinforcing brand, reinforcing culture, helping everybody feel part of one team, that’s something that the signs can help you do.

Derek DeWitt: And you can kinda localize it if you’re a spread out company in several locations, even if it’s just in the same city, but especially if you’re in different cities or states or even countries. As we’re always fond of saying, people in the Washington D.C. branch do not need to know some of the things that the people in the Portland, Oregon branch know or need to know.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, localization’s essential. I mean, I would say that if you’ve got screens even in different areas of the business, each of those might speak to a different group of people. It depends on how your, you know, how your building’s laid out. Business digital signage will let you show different messages on different screens so you can tailor it to be relevant in each location or each department, even down to the individual screen.

And you know, like you said, I highly recommend, you know, sending your messages out to an internet for your people who are working at home, but you know, you’re not gonna really do a playlist of messages for each department on your intranet. Like, that’s a lot of different templates. If you’re trying to do emails down to the different department, that doesn’t make much sense. You know, it’s a lot more time consuming and again, you can’t be sure they’re engaged. You have no way to know.

Derek DeWitt: Right. And again, obviously for people at home, it doesn’t matter if a fire breaks out in the warehouse, but for the people on site it sure does. And you can also kind of take over with alert notification capabilities.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, that’s something with large campuses, whether corporate or education. A lot of the digital signage software, including ours, ties into CAP, which is Common Alerting Protocol triggers. So, there are these safety applications that tie in. And so, what happens is it can take over your screens to give you, like you said, there’s a fire, hopefully not, but like severe weather, even weather warnings and watches.

Derek DeWitt: Right, like I was gonna come into the office and then I found out via the internet that oh, uh, snowstorm’s a-comin’. I’m physically on site, and I was thinking about leaving early; I see a snowstorm’s a-comin’, thanks to the signs, I’m gonna leave early.

Debbie DeWitt: Right. And that’s another thing you can localize down to the specific area. And I think a lot of CAP polling will do that for you. Like you said, you’re not gonna get a Seattle alert in your Washington office.

Derek DeWitt: And obviously, a large business probably already has a bunch of other systems they’re already using that they can tie in to the digital signage system.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. Data integration’s big, and there’s more data integration as the size of the business expands. But I will say, event schedules are the most popular thing that people show on screens. That’s true of businesses of all sizes, ’cause everybody has meetings, and everybody needs to know what time and where they’re supposed to be. So, you know, you can tie into event schedules. But you’re right, for pulling in like data sets to show KPIs or big complex dashboards or customer service stats, things like that, those are usually larger firms. Although smaller companies can use data triggers for simple things like, you know, countdowns or pulling in content from webpages.

Derek DeWitt: Sure. Is that true for interactive? Does it make sense for a smaller business to use an interactive screen? Or is that really only applicable for larger organizations?

Debbie DeWitt: I think even small business is a large category. Again, you can have 10 people, you can have a hundred people and so that’s very different. But yeah, usually it’s larger places that use touch screens. But if you’re a small business with a hundred employees, you might still have, like, an interactive kiosk with a directory for visitors in the lobby, things like that. But yeah, I’d say it’s larger companies that usually get into, like, wayfinding or an info kiosk or a queuing system or a menu board. You know, you’re not usually gonna get that in the 20-person company.

Derek DeWitt: Hopefully, all 20 of you know where the different rooms are.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, if you need wayfinding, you might wanna just reevaluate how you’ve set that office up.

Derek DeWitt: Though, I mean, again, I can conceive of, you know, a 30-person company that, for whatever reason, it’s research and development or who knows what, security concerns, intellectual property concern, it’s spread out over several buildings on a campus.

Debbie DeWitt: Oh yeah, absolutely. And actually, you just made me think of something which is, you know, they’re different kinds of digital signs and one of them are meeting room signs. And meeting room signs are interactive. And that’s something that a lot of people use, even a very small business, because they can book a room right at the sign. So when you say digital signage, it depends on what type of screen it is, what you’re using it for and the environment.

Derek DeWitt: Okay. Let’s say I’m a kind of, I don’t know, a mixed business. So, I’ve got office workers. I’ve got a manufacturing plant. I’ve got a retail outlet and obviously I’ve got a warehouse as well. And I’ve got all these different kinds of physical locations. Can digital signage be customized for each thing? I mean, what are the benefits for something like that?

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah, I think that’s where you really see the benefits of business digital signage. Because you know, you were talking about before, we were talking about before, localizing. So, it’s the same thing. You don’t always have to think of localization in terms of geography. You can think of it in terms of departments or job function. So, because you can show different things to different groups, you can cover all those areas with the information that each of them needs. And you can cross-pollinate (I’m gonna use an old word.)

Derek DeWitt: That’s old. Old buzzword!

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. I’m going old school on the buzzwords here. Where you can, you know, let the office know what’s happening in the warehouse and vice versa, things like that. You know, safety messaging happens in the warehouse, but you know, they also need to know that their 401K enrollment is ending this Friday or whatever, you know. And the office needs to know where they’re at on inventory, something like that.

Derek DeWitt: Well, and if you’re, say, an office person who occasionally goes into the warehouse or the manufacturing facility, yeah, once in a while getting a safety message or safety reminders, maybe not a bad idea for them either. ‘Cause they’re not in it every day, so it’d be very easy to zone out and forget and then whoops, there goes my finger.

Debbie DeWitt: Ooh, don’t say that! And it’s all managed from a single app, you know, usually via web browser, so that makes it super easy. You know, think of it as a playlist, just like your iTunes playlist except it’s visual messages. And you just go, this one is for the office, this one’s for the warehouse, this is for the factory. And like you said, if you’ve got a retail outlet, you know, a lot of places, even a manufacturer, will have like a lobby with some displays in it and you can certainly do customer messaging there. So, you know, one person can create and schedule all the messaging, or you can have people from each department or each team do their own.

Derek DeWitt: Yeah. It’s interesting, you know, we started off talking about hybrid workforce, some people on site, some people at home. Even the people who are creating and scheduling content for the digital signs can work from home, because it’s web based.

Debbie DeWitt: Oh yeah, yeah. Absolutely. And I mean, if you’ve got a tablet, it’s pretty easy. You literally import something, tell it when to play and when to stop playing. You’re done.

Derek DeWitt: And the thing to keep in mind is this is not an IT solution. It is technology, but it’s a technological tool for communications. It’s a communications system.

Debbie DeWitt: Yeah. It’s really all about supporting the company’s goals and your employees’ needs. It is a communications system. A lot of people think of it as, oh, I’m buying this software, but just like you have an accounting system or a CRM system, business digital signage is a system. So, you know, communications is a critical business operation. I don’t think there’s any debate about that anymore. So, like you said at the very beginning of this, why wouldn’t you use a tool that will improve your communications?

Derek DeWitt: So, business digital signage can help engage employees no matter what size organization you run. Of course, the specific benefits will vary depending on how you use it in the company. I’ve been talking with Debbie DeWitt, marketing communications manager for Visix, about why you should probably use business digital signage. Thanks, Deb. Thanks for talking to me.

Debbie DeWitt: Thank you, Derek.

Derek DeWitt: And thank you everybody out there for listening to this episode of Digital Signage Done Right.