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It’s impossible to discuss digital signage without talking about the key topic of ROI. Rich Ventura, vice president of business development and solutions at NEC Display Solutions, encouraged businesses not to be blinded by all the cool displays during a recent presentation.

“ROI is personal, focused, fluid and not always financial,” Ventura said during his talk. There are other metrics companies might use to define ROI. For example, a business looking to deploy a corporate communication signage solution might measure the overall improvement in communication with employees. When considering ROI, Ventura urged listeners to ignore companies that promise extremely high ROI rates, and focus on key, defined objectives.

Digital signage might seem simple at first, but there are several complexities such as the hardware, software, installation, content and integration. Integration with POS systems can be particularly challenging due to a large amount of compatibility issues. There are a wide range of competitors in the POS and digital signage space, so they have little incentive to make sure their products work well together. With all these complexities in mind, Ventura said potential deployers need to keep in mind that digital signage is a business decision at the end of the day.

There are multiple barriers to entry in the digital signage world. For one, many companies lack the technical understanding, or they may reach “paralysis by analysis.” When managers over analyze a deployment, they might become afraid and fail to make a decision. However, there are a few key steps to follow to make discovering ROI for digital signage easier.

First, Ventura recommends you firmly establish your objective in a way that is measurable and specific. In some cases, you might be looking for an ROO — return on objective. Ventura also recommended following one-, three- and five-year plans for digital signage deployments.

Next, you need to determine what you are going to measure. If you are a shoe store, for example, you might want to sell 45 percent more shoes. Once you establish your objective and your measurements, its much easier to establish your ROI.

Another factor to consider is the total cost of ownership. It goes beyond the immediate costs of purchasing the hardware or software. Companies also need to consider other expenses such as training, the time needed to implement the solution, content services and software architecture. Other factors to consider include recurring expenses such as maintenance or upgrades.

Ventura also recommends that companies carefully examine the costs of not deploying digital signage and compare it to the total cost of ownership. One cost of not deploying digital signage might be falling behind your competition or failing to engage distracted customers.

Deployers should try not to treat manufacturers as vendors only, but rather as partners, he said. Partner with manufacturers to help the deployment process run smoothly.

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