Our latest attempt at a list involves more of a breakdown by vertical sector. Rather than have a separate top five or six per individual category (for example; DOOH, FIDS, billboards, video walls, corporate communication, education, retail, stadiums etc.) we’ve listed (yes, in order) vendors who we’ve met and whose products we’ve gone through in some detail and / or products that we’ve actually used on real-world projects, and attempted to sum up the sectors we think they are best suited for or indeed, aimed at.
With a 1,000+ me-too digital signage software products out there this is a starting place for your next RFP (and please, if you are considering writing another piece of digital signage software don’t!!!).
No list is going to be absolutely correct towards digital sign, nor will everyone agree with our rankings but as we said back in 2007, it’s a start and needs to be done.
Our Top 25 Best Digital Signage Software Vendors in order (with their old position in parentheses), is as follows: –
- BroadSign† (1) Many people, including us, in the past, have tended to dismiss BroadSign as a one trick wonder – focussing purely (as they have done very well) on Ad Based Networks (they of course won the JCDecaux business back in 2011) but we’ve seen of late a number of wins in retail and some great installs in an area that we ourselves love working in, that of corporate foyers, atriums and reception areas. If you aren’t an Ad Based Network or Media Owner then there is no longer any reason to ignore them. We think BroadSign is starting to fit the bill no matter what your Digital Signage network needs are.
- STRATACACHE† (2) It’s hard to ignore any vendor that can boast of some of the very largest digital signage networks out there and when that is coupled with demanding brands such as McDonalds you know that someone sensible has done their technical due diligence well. Whilst we wouldn’t use STRATATACHE for a large video wall install, Ad Based Network or in education (not niched enough for the first two and probably ‘overkill’ for the latter) for any really big network involving Stadiums, Retail, Retail Banking, Corporate Communications or QSR they would be a good candidate.
- Ayuda Media Systems† (5) Here’s a company that has a nice vertical focus AND is very likely going to stick to it. When they started they focussed purely on Out of Home – building very, very clever ERP software that managed the huge traditional inventories of the largest OOH Media Owners across the world – all the while adding in clever digital elements to their offering. Whilst BroadSign will most likely add to the sectors they play in – Ayuda will concentrate on the area they know best. Both strategies have merit and it really is A vs B if you are a media owner looking for a software platform – your choice is simple, you either want a top to bottom, souptonuts solution in which case you will choose Ayuda or you want a digital signage software solution that you will do your own integration around – in which case you choose BroadSign. In this vertical, a decision is very easy.
- Signagelive† (4) Jason Cremins and his team continue to punch well above their weight. Here’s another company that plays extremely well in almost all of the verticals you can image – you could call them the swiss army knife of digital signage. Jason probably had far too much of a love-in a few years back for Samsung but he is one of the only industry CEOs who has seemingly got his cloud software strategy spot-on – deals with Samsung for SoC were followed by support for LG’s WebOS and Google Chrome OS and (hats off) he also got the hang of open source very early on. His vision and his strategy will drive the business to new heights and we’d thoroughly recommend Signagelive for use in retail, QSR, hospitality, video walls, education, corporate communications and transport. Watch out for them to be one of the first to really get the hang of the ‘apps’ marketplace.
- Scala† (6) Scala still has the best known brand out there in the industry. It is rightly the first software vendor that is chosen and written down, no matter what the RFP is for. It’s a jack-of-all-trades and (still) master of most of them. Caveat: despite it being the software that runs more digital billboards in the world that any other vendor we still wouldn’t choose it for an Ad Based Network – the investment in the ad technology that was needed to keep up with the likes of Ayuda and BroadSign just wasn’t there. However, for perhaps EVERY other industry vertical you can possibly think of, it would be in the top three of any list. We use it a lot ourselves for our big video wall projects. Whilst, the current leadership and its board seem to see it’s focus and future being in retail, it is hugely popular in QSR, Employee Communications, Hospitality and Education.
- Amscreen†. Proving that you no longer need to be a die-hard software vendor to play in this space; The Sugar’s Amscreen – ostensibly an M2M acquisition and now operating a pure screen solutions business is fast becoming one of the most important solutions providers in the UK and has a major role to play in the ad-based, retail, QSR, hospitality and corporate communications sectors, as well as acting as a significant screen provider to other OOH media owners. Unlike many of the software vendors here, Amscreen delivers a full turnkey solution rather than integrating multiple third party products – this provides a one-stop shop of hardware, software, connectivity and operations. Their plug and play product, which utilises mobile networks to schedule content, also allows them to roll out an entire network in a matter of weeks without the need for any host business IT integration, WiFi or any specific infrastructure. Their commitment to the sector was also shown with a recent investment in a dedicated assembly plant in the UK that is producing their new large format sunlight visible screens which is enabling even quicker delivery of a screen network to customers. If more of the Digital Signage Software vendors operated like Amscreen they’d all likely make more money.
- Barco’s X2O We’ve always loved Montreal based X2O and we’ve loved it even more since it was acquired by Barco. X2O was always our favourite vendor for corporate communication style installs – especially anything involving the boardroom! Pre-Barco acquisition, X2O always had a few hidden gems of installs of its own – some big retail and some hospitality rollouts that were either kept quiet or simply not publicised BUT with Barco behind them now we have seen a lot more product marketing emphasis on both the retail and advertising sectors. Whilst Barco continue to push the product at running large billboards – quite simply something we would NOT do, the solution is perfect in retail and TRULY EXCELLENT in corporate communications. X2O are continuing to focus on corporate communications solutions with their HTML5-based platform – extending their offering beyond just digital screens and video walls to desktop PCs, mobile phones and tablets in order to reach the right person, at the right time, and on the right device. In parallel, we see several Barco divisions releasing new products based on the X2O platform. All of these solutions take advantage of the power and flexibility of the X2O platform, enabling a wide range of sector-specific solutions – features such as easy-to-use content creation tools with libraries of smart channels and objects, the ability to link to numerous internal and external data sources and a highly scalable real-time architecture make the creation and management of advanced visual communication applications easier than ever.
- Real Digital Media. (3) Ken Goldberg and his development NEOCAST† team have continued to beaver away down in Florida creating one of the best software solutions for QSR and Digital Menu Boards. They have a long history of supporting multiple verticals, namely retail, healthcare and hospitality. They’ve also got a pretty good handle, should anyone need a third option, on Ad Based Networks. NEOCAST is a streamlined platform offering support to a variety of network types.
- Net Display Systems† PADS is probably the best solution for Flight Information Display Systems (FIDS) and probably the most widely used as well BUT but it’s also good for corporate communications and of course (because of the FIDS connotation) pretty handy at Video Walls. NDS has very strong data connectivity features (you really can connect it to any data source, whether that be Microsoft Outlook, Excel, Facebook or Twitter with just a couple of mouse clicks.
- ONELAN† (7) is a UK based pioneer of digital signage players, content and network management systems and data integration tools. With a perhaps undisputed leadership role in the education market, ONELAN is now equally present in the retail and corporate sectors. In the past year there have been significant investments in developing international markets. A new Northern European office has been opened in Germany as well as new operations established in the Middle East and the USA. This has led to a string of new distribution partnerships across Europe, Russia and the Middle East. With an existing established business base in the Americas and APAC regions, international trade in the last year has we believe, grown from a 50% share of its turnover to 70%. ONELAN can now be truly considered an international player who has implemented numerous projects which span multiple international locations. Notable recent successes have included an innovative installation at Dubai Duty Free, the busiest airport in the world. On the UK high street, ONELAN has rolled out a nationwide network in the Three mobile retail stores and in Australia, ONELAN is now expanding the already 1200+ player network with Chemist Warehouse, Australia’s largest chemist chain. ONELAN is a company that continues to innovate and it has been very clever with things like its new Reserva Room Signage range and small interactive digital screens for retail applications. As we’ve said, with a host of newly appointed distribution partners and an upsized sales team, ONELAN’s global strategy continues to advance.
- RMG Enterprise Solutions† (nee Symon Communications, Inc.) Symon is back! Well nearly anyway. Pre-RMG Networks acquisition, Symon were the undisputed king of the contact centre and had an edge on many in corporate communications. A confused takeover meant that good management and staff left and they lost their way. With newly promoted to CTO, Rick Mattock now fully in charge, RMG Networks has started to re-establish itself as a digital signage enterprise-software leader. Evidence of this was seen with the company’s new software release summer 2015, which included good advancements in usability, scalability, monitoring and security. During 2015 RMG announced several new business solutions and customer wins, focusing, not only on their core contact center solution, but also their ever growing presence in the internal communications and supply chain markets. We note that RMG’s InView communications reaches up to 100% of employees with customized messages and data that helps motivate performance. Their supply chain solution offers an ROI of up to 20% with real-time performance monitoring. These solutions, along with the other innovative offerings they have released this year, poise RMG for even greater potential in 2016. No wonder RMG still counts over 70% of the Fortune 100 as customers.
- YCD Multimedia (8) YCD were pioneers in retail (and it’s not often you can say the word ‘pioneer’ in our industry with a straight face) and pushed the boundaries in how digital merchandising could be managed (and more importantly reported) with products like RAMP. With the acquisition of C-Nario in 2011 they also got hold of one of the early go-to companies in software video wall installations. Today C-Nario is rebranded not as a company but YCD’s flagship product, Cnario Digital Signage Suite. Their platform is an all-in-one combining content authoring, management and playback as a complete software suite – there are no additional modules to purchase. In recent years YCD has built a reputation for being the go to digital signage company for complex content playback and one of a kind installations. We’d happily recommend them for retail, large billboard and complicated video wall installations.
- Four Winds Interactive (10) After 10 years, 5,000+ clients and over 300,000 screens deployed, FWI’s software platform is driving visual communications to millions of people everyday in airports, banks, corporate campuses, professional sports stadiums, hospitals, hotels, casinos, universities, manufacturing facilities and retail stores. FWI’s software drives numerous 1,000+ location networks for large enterprise customers and its software is known for its advanced functionality (live data, interactivity, wayfinding, dynamic scheduling) that allows customers to deploy many types of applications, to many screens all from a single software platform.
- ADFLOW has focused on the North American market and they have quietly partnered with many of North America’s leading retailers and brands. They continue to do innovative work with data-driven signage, interactive kiosks, spanning content on video walls and have a growing portfolio in corporate communications. Their customers seem to appreciate how easy their platform is to manage at scale, as well as their solid support and their “one throat to choke”, turn-key approach to business. Like others in this top 25, they are finding their way into several second generation networks where the original software solution simply didn’t scale and it became too hard and resource-intensive to feed the network with data and changes, something ADFLOW’s DMS platform shines at. We also note that they are starting to make some quiet inroads in Central and South America. ADFLOW are self-funded and conservative, and they would be the first to tell a potential client that profitable growth and high-quality execution come first and foremost.
- DISE† Swedish based DISE is used all over the world. From the subway stations in Hong Kong to shopping malls in the United Kingdom. DISE is predominantly well known for their unique and innovative video walls and this makes DISE the perfect choice for escalators, various types of arenas and events. DISE also has one of the most powerful editor tools on the market with hundreds of features that allows you to create stunning presentations. Like may other systems, DISE has the ability to switch content depending on triggers like fire alarms, temperature, inventory level etc. Bottom line, they are the masters of Digital Escalator Panels (DEPs) and we would thoroughly recommend them for complicated video wall installations as well.
- Dallas based Reflect Systems have quietly gone about building up a solid business. Their transition from a software company to a turnkey managed services and solutions provider has enabled them to experience fast-paced growth in a very competitive market. As they are still hungry for more growth, it’s rumored they are interested in acquiring strategic partners that complement their turnkey approach for clients. Reflect has a growing client base of blue-chip brands, with over 55 clients total, including seven Fortune 500 companies. Reflect serves many verticals today and has built a robust concentration of business in retail, hospitality and entertainment.
- Omnivex (9). Here is a good company with a great product that has historically undersold itself. Having said that, over the past two years they have focused on building up their management team by bringing in experienced executives to run key parts of the organisation; they hired Chris Devlin (former Senior Vice President Sales at Computer Associates) to manage the Sales and Channel team and Rob Adams (former Executive Vice President of Operations at Adflow) to manage the Services and Development organizations. In the past year they have expanded their Moxie flagship product to include Enterprise, Commercial and Cloud versions (Moxie Cloud provides their customers with a hosted and/or managed solution depending on business requirements). Omnivex is a strong Microsoft Gold partner and Microsoft is just one of the many large corporations they partner with. Omnivex has a number of large installations across industries such as retail, advertising, corporate and transportation and typically these installations all leverage the data management capabilities embedded in the solution to achieve greater flexibility at a lower operating cost. Omnivex Moxie is used by customers for many other applications including advertising, emergency notifications, kiosks, timetables and interactive wayfinding. Omnivex is, quite simply, one of the leaders in data-driven large scale video walls.
- Navori† have continued to make strides in retail, education and way finding and delivers premium enterprise-grade software with their Navori QL product. The company is engineer-driven with a focus on delivering the best possible viewer experience and their products are renowned for their ease of use and performances. Their customer base has grown steadily over the past 18 years and they have maintained an international presence through their extensive reseller/partner network. Navori QL is used in every type of digital signage application and is probably capable of meeting any challenge through its extensive range of add-ons. Also available for example is an Advertising Add-On Module and a QL Server SDK
- Nanonation are equally proficient with digital signage, interactive, and kiosk software – that breadth of solutions is undoubtedly one of their major strengths – the others we think are their user interface, user experience and reliability (with tens of thousands of units deployed worldwide we hear that they see an average of less than one call per terminal every four years and that ladies and gentlemen is pretty impressive). Whilst Nanonation focus their sales efforts on North America, many of their US-based clients do actually have worldwide deployments, meaning they actually have thousands of units in Asia, EMEA, South America, and Central America. We also like their creative arm
- Hiperwall Inc. develops video wall software used by people in more than 50 countries around the world in the command and control, lobby and meeting room, education and entertainment markets. Hyperwall’s claim that their software is used to save lives, improve security, enrich communication, foster branding, improve sales, enhance instruction and enliven entertainment experiences is pretty close to the truth in most instances. It’s a flexible, hardware-agnostic, scalable, easy to use and affordable solution that enables organizations of any size to have access to video wall technology. It’s easily the cheapest way to throw millions of pixels at screens.
- MultiQ. Mermaid vTouch Pro was acquired by MultiQ in April 2015 when they acquired Mermaid. Mermaid vTouch Pro was probably best known for their work in transport and the public sector. We used to say that if you want a screen on a bus, talk to them.
- Visix concentrate on corporate, education, healthcare and government – instead of pursuing retail and every other market niche the focus on products that are built with organisational communications in mind. They have built a nifty new mobile wayfinding app that works with beacons and geofencing, which takes their already great wayfinding offering to another level. They are also the only digital signage company with a full room sign line that includes Touch interactive units that work with their software, as well as Connect interactive room signs that are a stand-alone solution (and don’t require additional) software. They also offer nice e-paper signs, which are probably the most affordable room signs on the market. If you want a way finding or employee communications product then these folks are definitely a good choice.
- Grassfish Vienna-based Grassfish believes that it on its way to taking the lead in Europe. Many vendors, including a lot of our current and previous top tens, have seen them able competing for many of the same big deals. Grassfish primarily focusses on large projects in the retail, automotive and banking sectors and also provides nice solutions for corporate communications. Grassfish is likely your platform of choice if you need enterprise-grade features and true multi-device support (it has strong partnerships with Samsung, BrightSign, Cisco and others). Grassfish continues to grow in Europe, with an emerging presence in the US.
- ZetaDisplay If you are looking for a software solution in Scandinavia, the unrivalled vendor in the region (yes, despite Scala’s roots in Norway) is ZetaDisplay. In the region, they out-PR everyone and are pretty much a jack of all trades but, we feel, with a specific focus on (and big wins in) retail, restaurants, banking and supermarkets. Zetadisplay is heavily investing in the latest Digital Signage tools and is applying multichannel logic to its software development which in turn, enables modern system integration within digital communication. Although they are based in Scandinavia, Zetadisplay has a global perspective and seems to have a tested strategy to deliver to international customers.
- NCR NetKey† More famous for kiosk software than anything and with multipe NCR software acquisitions under its belt, NetKey just about manages to make it on our list of 25 software vendors we’d work with. If you are serious about retail then they deserve a look especially if you want some form of kiosk integration as well.