How Not to Choose Your Digital Signage Software: Opinions

The recent announcement of a new digital signage software review program by OnPath was followed by Dave Haynes’ commentary that cast doubts on the credibility of such reviews.

The doubts were expressed more explicitly a couple of days later in Ken Goldberg’s post Choose Process Over Pre-Processed.

OnPath announced, in part: “OnPath is stepping up to address this need for detailed, accurate information with our new OnPath Reviews program. Like a “consumer reports” for digital signage, this program will provide in-depth technical reviews of products in the market, beginning with the software offerings. Our team is uniquely qualified to provide this service to the market, having decades of experience on both the vendor and client side of the table, and the technical expertise to dig in and ask the right questions and get the answers.”

Dave Haynes, a digital signage veteran and a consultant in digital signage network deployment wrote in response:

“The idea is that software vendors would pay OnPath to have them lab-test their platform and produce a detailed report (cost is in the four figures, but I forget the first number) that itemizes the strengths and weaknesses. They are also seeking blanket sponsors – like PC and chipmakers – for the reports.

The Mr. CrankyPants in me immediately thinks a paid product review wouldn’t exactly arrive on a desk with the integrity of a Consumer Reports analysis, but Lou says this won’t be advertorial-style reviews that result in endless awesomeness. “No one,” says Giacalone, “is going to come out perfectly rosy.

…The challenge, of course, is finding software vendors willing to spend the money and more so, willing to pay for a report that may not be an easy A.”

Ken Goldberg’s commentary, however, was more straightforward in its criticism of the OnPath undertaking:

“… one thing the industry most certainly does not need is an entity that purports to serve as “Underwriters Lab” or “Consumer Reports” providing a self-described beacon of objectivity as people wade through the apocryphal 300 vendor offerings. That is arguably neither consulting nor a model that will advance the industry.”

I am interested to know what other people (especially digital signage software vendors and network operators) think on the subject.

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