Why run a Digital Signage Network on Linux OS?
From the most powerful supercomputers to self-driving cars, Smart Phones and TV's, Linux is the number one choice of Operating System that drives our digital world, so why not use it for your Digital Signage?
With its Open Source nature, Linux gives One Digital Media the ability to finely tune all aspects of their Digital Signage media players. We are able to remove all but the most important components, leaving a small secure footprint that is able to run on low cost, low powered hardware, yet still, deliver high-performance Full HD video playback.
With all but the most important parts of the software stack removed, the attack vector on the One Digital Media players is greatly reduced. There is no need to run anti-virus software, and updates are automatically handled in the background, resulting in a display that is never interrupted with pop-up notifications or requests to reboot the display to perform an update.
With Linux, One Digital Media is also able to ensure that should there be a loss of power or any other such interruption which causes the player to restart, the display software will automatically start back up and begin playback in seconds with no interaction from the user.
The built inbuilt-in set of remote management tools, in combination with One Digital Media, developed software and, Linux provides us with all the power we need to remotely diagnose and resolve issues, all without ever interrupting the display. Our dedicated support teams are able to remotely* send commands to the device to reboot, restart the player, or they can directly connect to it and see exactly what is happening on the device.
While remotely connected, we are able to get a detailed analysis of what is happening on the player, what has happened in the past - such as power interruptions - and determine any potential network issues or display issues that may be occurring.
* As long as network connectivity is available
Why run a Digital Signage Network on One Digital Media's SWARM software?
Ease of use
The One Digital Media SWARM software has been designed with simplicity in mind, for use by all parties, whether they are One Digital Media employees, clients or resellers.
Using a cloud-based infrastructure, One Digital Media is able to offer clients quick and easy access to their Digital Signage network without the need to install anything on their own networks or computers. Clients can simply log into the One Digital Media Content Management System from any web browser on any computer and upload and schedule media to their Digital Signage players.
The CMS interface has been designed to be as straightforward as possible for new users to get up and running on.
As more and more devices and solutions take to the internet, bandwidth becomes more of a concern. If it is not for the cost of the bandwidth, then it is for the amount of bandwidth used by devices.
One Digital Media's SWARM software takes this into account from the get-go. Using a custom binary communication protocol, we try to keep the amount of data we send across a network to a minimum. The SWARM software uses a built-in edge caching mechanism on a device we dub a Smart Station or Smart Player which ensures that large video files are only downloaded once over the internet, and then stored locally within the local network where they can be more easily re-distributed without incurring further costs of having to re-download the content for each Digital Signage display.
In addition to caching the media on the local network, each player keeps a copy of its own media and plays back the media from the local storage. This not only avoids costly streaming of videos but ensures that should the Digital Signage display lose connectivity to the internet, it is still able to access its local media and continue playing without interruption.
Once the media has reached its end of life and no longer exists in an active playlist, the files are kept in the local storage for up to 1.5 months, ensuring that should it be needed again during that period, it will not need to be re-downloaded. After 1.5 months, the file is removed to free up space for new content.
Locally Developed. Proudly South African
The One Digital Media SWARM software is internally developed by a team of 3 developers who are actively involved with working with other departments to improve the software. Because One Digital Media provide the full stack of services, from content production to scheduling, to on-site support, the software development team at One Digital Media are exposed to the many challenges faced by different people in the support of a Digital Signage network.
“Other competing software is often designed and developed within the realm of just providing the software license for operating a Digital Signage network, and the developers are never involved directly with the scheduling, reporting or support of large-scale networks. This leads to software that does not scale well for your business as your Digital Signage network grows “says Ross Simpson, Chief Technical Officer at One Digital Media.
As a testament to this, One Digital Media supports a network of over 3000 venues and 12000 players with only 3 scheduling staff and 4 support staff.
Being internally developed also allows us to more easily adapt to the local needs of clients and add in new features as required. We are also not acting as a middleman sales channel, so are able to keep our license costs for our Digital Signage software low.
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Help Desk services are like insurance or medical aid, you hope you never need it but it’s important to have it.
Making a sale is only the start. Supplying hardware and software is the simple part of providing digital signage solutions.
What happens next is important;
Our team of dynamic Help Desk professionals focuses on client service, striving to resolve our client’s technical issues. Our aim is to meet and exceed client expectations. We are a technology company, but we are also a services company and as such, we aim to cultivate long term mutually beneficial relationships.
This team faces special challenges that differ from other customer service functions. Finding the perfect balance between customer service and technical aptitude is the goal. Technical aptitude alone will not ensure success as a help desk. Training in both technical, and specialised customer contact skills are pre-requisites for a successful help desk team.
To ensure we offer an exceptional customer experience, we focus on:
- Addressing the knowledge/skills gap
- Providing a standardised exceptional customer experience regardless of end-user knowledge level
- Optimising support processes to maintain the balance between customer centricity and technical efficiency
- Updating and providing user-friendly troubleshooting guides
An experienced team
Our Help Desk team members, have over 30 years of combined IT & telecommunications experience, with a range of technical qualifications including IT diplomas such as A+ & N+ and more in-depth networking diplomas like CCNA & MCSE. On the process business side, the Help Desk also has qualifications in ITIL & Cobalt.
Naasief Bedford, Head Technical Support Technician at ODM: “Our role is about using technology to help our clients and stakeholders accomplish their business goals. They are looking for a pro-active, reliable, accountable and efficient service. All this while being empathetic and professional. We provide a pro-active outbound call service assisting with offline devices even before our clients experience issues in their stores. We believe when calling on us, our clients are looking for more help than service and we believe we are providing this on a daily basis. We have tailored and streamlined our call handling processes in order to meet our client’s needs whether this is with first-hand resolution or providing clients with traceable call references. This fosters reliability and accountability and ensures our client’s expectations are met without any added frustration or escalation. Our call quality rating process evaluates and scores our Help Desk professionalism and soft skills. This also allows the business identify problems, maintain quality standards, improve the customer experience and improve the Help Desk as a whole”.
“Choosing the correct digital signage service provider for your business can be daunting”
ads Bedford. “The business partner you choose needs to evolve as your business does and be there for the long haul. An empathetic, service driven Help Desk Team is essential for such collaborations”.
At ODM, we find solutions to our client's challenges by understanding their business’ and collaborating with them and/or their service providers. This allows us to become a long-term partner with a vested interest in their growth.
Key attributes of an effective Help Desk:
At One Digital Media, we aim to provide innovative digital signage solutions and service, with emphasis on collaborative development and continued evolution to keep pace with our client’s business growth.
- Pro-active fault monitoring
- Reliable and accountable team members
- Positive approach to problem-solving
- Analytical and process-oriented approach
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Getting the main message across is one thing, but what else can you do with digital signage?
Digital marketing and Digital Menu Boards (DMBs) are fast becoming ubiquitous across the international QSR industry. Going digital provides a vital modern tool for delivering current, focussed messages and product updates to your target market, no matter how dispersed your network is! Site profiling and customer grouping have become critical to laying the foundation of an effective digital library strategy. The ‘build it and they will come’ strategy becomes a bit redundant when it comes to going digital.
Attracting eyes and making choices simple!
Key product animation, great digital product shots and key messages targeting key customer groups are a prerequisite to realising acceptable ROI on Digital Menu Board spend. If a picture is worth a thousand words then digital animation (on a DMB) selling a fantastic product range must mean more. Delivering digital messages at the point of choice connects the dots between neuroscience, how we make choices and reducing the complexity of choice. After all who wants to make purchase decisions harder for their customers?
It’s the additional functionality that makes the difference
We have in the past proven that DMBs are effective at driving sales, but we also use them for ‘defensive communication’. As Jason Thorold (Head of ODM Internal Services) explains “Our design team creates a layer of media, which is placed over the original product offering, rendered into the media and scheduled to play according to a specific schedule.” This means the team can very quickly schedule “out of stock” messages to a group of sites or one site within five minutes!
“Requests of this nature are tightly controlled and tracked. Records are kept of instructions from client sites to either place or remove a temporary messages“ adds Thorold. “We offer a service that not only offers a convenient and flexible communication channel but traceability of such requests“.
Value add benefits – big data?
”Out of stock” media scheduling could be required due to a machine being out of order, stock hasn’t been ordered or hasn’t been delivered. Over time, this data is collated and filtered through business impact dashboards – as Jeremy Grant (ODM CIO) points out analysing trend data almost ‘real-time’ allows operational teams insight into how machines are being maintained. Continual data streams from sites combined with Digital Menu Boards permits marketing teams to track sales trends and test new marketing campaigns with extremely quick turn-around times. Big Data is here to stay, let ODM help you simplify your data to target potential cost saving opportunities, identify potential risks to operational continuity”.
At ODM, we find solutions to our client's challenges by understanding their business’ and collaborating with them and/or their service providers. This allows us to become a long-term partner with a vested interest in their growth.
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Business Intelligence Services by One Digital Media
Creating long lasting mutually beneficial business relationships is more than selling hardware and software. A true partnership involves offering a range of services that continue to add value long after the sale has been concluded. It’s about maximizing the solution by speeding up the return on investment. But how? At ODM we believe the answer is ‘Business Intelligence’.
What is Business Intelligence?
Business Intelligence makes use of a suite of business analytics tools to deliver insights throughout an organization. The system can connect to multiple data sources to drive ad-hoc analysis. Data sources include databases, spreadsheets, and online services. Many of these are constantly updated throughout the day, week or year.
Whether you wish to analyse your sales trends, help-desk tickets or team KPI’s, BI makes the job easier by crunching the numbers for you and presenting them in a visual way that makes complete sense to you. Once reports are designed, slicing and dicing your data by Country, Province, region or outlet is straightforward and easy to do.
Utilising the toolkit of visualisation widgets, we’re able to design custom dashboards that present the information that is important to you through meaningful reports.
Everyone with a BI license can create personalized dashboards with a unique, 360-degree view of their business.
How do we do it?
ODM starts off by detailing what data you currently use to drive your business or what data is available for consumption by the BI tools and map out what you wish to see throughout your organisation.
Then, we design a reporting infrastructure (hosted in the cloud or on-site) that will allow for easy access to the data by the BI system.
We then design the reports and dashboards you wish to see and once the data infrastructure is in place, we will create the reports.
Once all the above is in place, we implement the reports and dashboards that you need and publish them to the BI service.
We utilise Microsoft’s Power BI as the infrastructure and we offer the following services:
- Hosted data, Report, and Dashboard design – We will host the service for you, allocate logins and maintain your reports and data.
- BI set-up, Report, and Dashboard design – We will assist you with setting up your own on-site service.
- Report design – We will assist with custom reports.
What are the benefits to you?
There is so much data available today. Making sense of data and representing it in a format that prompts interrogation of the statistics is the key function of Business Intelligence. It creates the opportunity for management to identify underperforming teams or outlets and find solutions for the cause of the problem. Less time data mining and more time focussed on client services, revenue tasks or cost management.
Take the example of the take-away outlet, this could be a franchise group or a small business owner. Provided with Point-Of-Sale data for analysis, we can assist by looking at sales trends across day-of-month, day-of-week, time-of-day to establish trading patterns. By adding individual time stamped POS line items into the data, we can look at what menu items are popular at specific times of the day and the manager can ensure that there is sufficient stock at those times. All the data is analysed in the background giving you very easy to read dashboards. Busy periods during the day would indicate ideal times to have all staff in store. Combining the dashboards with Digital Menu Boards allows Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) business owners and Franchisors the ability to offer and measure (real-time) the impact of site specific marketing campaigns. Central intelligence marketing is now at our finger tips!
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Print and energy savings with Digital Screens
Digital signage screens assist in both saving print costs and reducing your ecological foot-print. Solutions provided by One Digital Media reduce print costs to our clients, as there is no need for re-prints due to colour or copy writing errors.
One Digital Media ensures that content uploaded to our fully managed systems are approved by the client.
ODM’s digital signage software has the capability to control display times at a store level by using the auto-on and auto-off functionality. This aids in prolonging hardware lifetime as well as saving electrical costs. Not all stores have the same trading hours thus display times can be custom set to meet your needs.
A pro-active tip; Set the digital screen to power on 30 minutes before start of trade and off again 30 minutes after the official closing time. Setting up the digital screen trading hours in this way allows staff to verify that the system is fully operational prior to their clients arrival and also ensures the offering is visible to any last minute or lingering clientele.
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2017 CEO Message: ODM CEO Andrew Ridl
All the best for 2017!
What a year 2016 was and what a year 2017 is going to be! There was a slight respite at the end of last year from our retail clients (as they don’t install new systems in December) but the ODM team were kept on their toes with other projects. We have also had an incredibly fast start to 2017 and the ODM offices around the country are starting to feel like Virgin Health Clubs in January – very busy!
The business expansion in Africa is going well – with new sites being taken on in Ghana, Zimbabwe with forthcoming sites in Malawi. The consolidation of the industry in South Africa continues with our on-going acquisition plans and partnership deals. The growth of ODM services across the board will also ensure that ODM remains the largest supplier of Digital Narrowcasting services in Africa.
Our ambitious statement for 2017 is “our best year yet” and the dedicated ODM team has accepted that challenge!
“In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.” Abraham Lincoln
Maximizing the potential of Digital Menu Boards with Dayparting
Dayparting is the practice of dividing a day into several segments and directing different forms of programming , advertising or marketing material to each segment.
One Digital Media is all about the bigger picture, especially when it comes to optimising your visual marketing goals.
In the same way traditional broadcast marketers apply the practice of dayparting on radio and television networks, in- store digital menu boards can be utilised in the same way. Just as audiences for radio and television changes throughout the day or week, visitors to Quick Service Restaurants (QSR’s) change and the menu items that are of interest to them change as well e.g. breakfast items are popular in the morning, more substantial but light meals for lunch or family type meals for the evening.
By using specially designed in-house software offered by One Digital Media, digital menu boards have the flexibility to suit your strategy.
Digital Menu Board Scheduling Strategy should serve the needs of your; clients, marketing team as well as your operational team.
At One Digital Media we deliver turnkey solutions and in-depth content strategies to best meet your visual marketing goals.
Dayparting can also be put in practice with digital signage solutions like corporate information, sales marketing and brand awareness screens.
KFC South Africa has completed the 800-store Digital Menu Board rollout – now 100% digital in-store!
One Digital Media (ODM), the largest digital signage provider in Africa, partnered with KFC South Africa and began testing the efficacy of Digital Menu Boards (DMBs). Over the years the KFC team and ODM perfected the solution to ensure the system could be implemented across all KFC restaurants in South Africa.
South Africa is the first country in the world to roll out DMB’s to all KFC restaurants and is now completely digital in all stores! This innovation will assist KFC in enhancing the customers experience whilst delivering more flexibility and functionality to all their restaurants.
Each digital screen serves as a menu board, this allows content to be managed or changed (across all restaurants or at one restaurant) within a matter of minutes, providing immediate impact and results. KFC now has the ability to provide unique menus to each restaurant, moving one step closer to their loyal customer group per site.
The ODM team works closely with one of KFC’s agency, Ogilvy & Mather, to create and animate DMB content bringing key products and promotions to life. The digital content automatically alternates between breakfast, lunch and midnight menu items.
Various solutions ranging from touch screen, to digital menu boards and “CView” (a program to display multiple menu board layouts on a single or video wall screen) have been installed at KFC’s Head Office in Gauteng. ODM congratulates KFC South Africa on this amazing DMB roll-out and feel honoured to have been a part of the achievement.
Recently, the 800th KFC DMB installation happened at Flagstaff, Kwa-Zulu Natal on 18 August 2015.
Woolworths has taken their shopping experience to the next level
ODM have partnered with Woolworths and installed a total of 13 different digital signage communication points ranging from Video Walls, to large format LED Displays at their new store in Rosebank (The Mall of Rosebank) Gauteng.
This exciting store was launched on 25 September 2014
As you walk past Woolworths your attention will be drawn by the large 3m x 3m LED display. Inside, you will find a further 3 smaller LED displays, in the RE: Woman, RE: Men and Modern Woman sections.
In the Studio W Men and Woman section you will find 1 x 46” portrait screen. As you enter the food market, be sure to look out for the 46” portrait screen displaying all the specials and daily difference items. Furthermore, the Country Road group has concession stores within Woolworths; they have 2 x 46” portrait screens located at Witchery Woman’s section, 1 x 46” portrait screen at Witchery Kids and lastly 1 x 46” portrait screen at Mimco.
We congratulate Woolworths on yet another successful store launch and look forward to adding more of these solutions to other stores in the near future.
KFC's digital signage menu network grows to over 5000 screens
One Digital Media (ODM), the largest digital signage company in South Africa, and KFC are on track to complete one of the largest digital menu board networks in the world. Currently, over 5000 digital menu boards have been installed for KFC YUM! in South Africa.
An additional 1200 installations are planned over the next year.
The network, which comprises up to nine screens in each KFC store, has already been installed in 586 KFCs around the country and additional sites continue to roll out each month. Each screen serves as a menu board, and each screen or group of screens can be changed cost-effectively from a central point within a matter of minutes, providing immediate results.
ODM provides a turnkey digital signage solution 24/7 to YUM! and ODM services include procurement, warranty management, installation, maintenance and scheduling on behalf of YUM!
ODM also works closely with YUM!'s agency Ogilvy to create and animate content which brings life to the digital menu board solution.
Andrew Ridl, CEO of ODM said: "It has been an amazing experience working with a company like YUM! and a brand as well-known as KFC. As the network has grown, we continue to learn more and more from each other. We are particularly proud about how stable our solution has proven to be in an environment where 24-hour service is required."
As the market leader in South Africa, One Digital Media has the luxury of utilising the latest version of Arcus 3 software that has been specifically developed for digital menu board networks. This software, which is part of the software suite developed by the company over the last seven years, is used by many other well-known brands like Spur, Woolworths, Wimpy and Cell C.
Ridl says that the importance of being able to customise elements of the software for specific clients, without incurring lengthy lead times and costs (in US Dollars or Euros), makes the software solution extremely attractive and cost-effective for clients.
ODM also prefers to use the Linux operating system as Linux does not require Windows licensing fees.
"However," says Ridl, "we are completely hardware/software agnostic and if our client wants to use a specific brand of software or screen, we will assist them to do that, normally at very competitive prices."
One Digital Media, founded in 2006, has over 18,000 devices in stores in South Africa and is the leading digital media company in the retail environment in South Africa. Other clients include Nashua Mobile, Bharti Airtel, SPAR, Cape Union Mart, Fruit &Veg City and Country Road.
YUM! Brands Inc., based in Louisville, Kentucky, has approximately 40,000 restaurants in more than 130 countries and territories. The company is currently ranked number 201 on the Fortune 500 list. The company's restaurant brands - KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell - are the global leaders of the chicken, pizza and Mexican-style food categories respectively.
Le Creuset partners up with One Digital Media for synchronised brand digital signage solutions
Le Creuset, French manufacturer of enamelled cookware, has partnered with one of South Africa's leading providers of in-store digital media solutions, One Digital Media (ODM), to showcase its products in a corresponding and scheduled manner across its national network of stores.
Andrew Ridl: "
The centrally controlled digital signage display network will enable Le Creuset to simultaneously create awareness of brand promotions, in-store specials and product launches while showcasing its brand story to shoppers."
The digital signage solution has been rolled out in 19 venues across the country with more to come before the end of 2013.
This unique solution will allow Le Creuset's marketing department to swiftly alter content displayed within any store via the organisation's head office in Cape Town. ODM's Nimbus Media Cloud software, which operates as the foundation for this solution, is web-based and can also be accessed by specific stores to run store/region specific promotions.
"Essentially we are building a digital library defined by custom media strategies and with scheduled displays for each store or group of stores. It was important to ensure a seamless integration of the hardware and software applications with the Le Creuset brand imagery such as photographs and video footage in a project of this scope," said Andrew Ridl, One Digital Media CEO.
As Le Creuset South Africa looks to increase its footprint throughout the country the partnership between these two companies was an obvious step forward in a market that is becoming increasingly digitally driven.
"Le Creuset is a world renowned brand synonymous with pure quality, style and delicious dinner parties. We are proud to be associated with the brand and we are excited about this project," concluded Ridl.
Cape Union Mart teams up with One Digital Media
Cape Union Mart, well-known outdoor adventure store chain, has partnered with One Digital Media, the largest provider of in-store digital signage solutions in South Africa.
Cape Union Mart has a digital signage network consisting of screens that are strategically placed in-store, showcasing brand specific information and promotional material. They needed a service provider that offered an affordable solution, as well as the delivery of after sales customer service and support.
"We've been searching for a cost-effective and function-rich media solution for our in-store screens for some time. The existing provider was offering very little in the way of customer-service and in-store (hands-on) support and it was great to find a partner that ticks both these boxes, as well as many others," said Evan Torrance Director of Marketing, IT and HRD at Cape Union Mart.
"Although the partnership is still young, we are excited about how things are developing and we're looking forward to the roll-out of the new screens and improved content over the next few months".
Andrew Ridl, the Chief Operating Officer of One Digital Media says that the company is thrilled to have Cape Union Mart as a client. "We deal with many of South Africa's tops brands and Cape Union Mart is right up there with the best", he said.