5 Benefits of Digital Menu Boards in the Cloud

Digital menu boards in the Cloud, now what does that mean?  In a post made by Doug Bannister on networldalliance.com he describes it as such:

Cloud computing is a term used to describe a wide variety of online services which provide remote, scalable computing resources that are accessible by means of the Internet rather than present on a local computer or network.

Put another way, rather than setting up a network on your own which could include servers, racks, and distribution equipment, there are hosting companies that provide this as a service. There is a shift of more and more solutions moving in this direction, and for good reason. The benefits of going this route continue to stack higher against the inherent and sometimes perceived risk.  Besides, “going to the Cloud” will soon be the only way to go.

Benefit #1 – Substantially less upfront cost

Digital Menu Board Software as a Service (SaaS) companies make use of a public Cloud. This makes resources available to a large number of clients resulting in a lower price because the cost is being spread amongst many users. Bannister writes:

Instead of installing the software or purchasing hardware, users can have these costs bundled together as part of a monthly, weekly or daily user fee and farmed out to a third party to manage. This in turn can provide substantial benefits in terms of reduced capital cost, software installation, and maintenance requirements.

Benefit #2 – Deployment is a breeze

When considering the components that are involved with a digital menu board installation, it becomes much less when going the Cloud route.  Attaching a media player to the back of an LCD and being done with it is a far cry from running data lines to a server room and establishing a network. The ease of deployment is especially critical in high growth situations. Keeping pace could become a challenge if you go with the on-site hosting alternative.

Benefit #3 – Easily adaptable

Similar to “Benefit #2,” going the Cloud approach allows the user to grow and contract on an as needed basis. Opening a new location?  Well we already know the deployment and installation is going to be easy and since it is in the Cloud, you don’t have to worry about getting it on the existing network. What’s that? Something went awry and you have to close a location?  Well, typically there are no contracts to host in the Cloud; therefore you will not be saddled with that expense or with the ridiculously priced software and server equipment that is now rendered useless.

Benefit #4 – Limits wasted resources

We are talking about menu boards people!!!  Although there are certain positives to hosting on-site, one still has to question the rationale behind wanting to setup an entire IT infrastructure for a menu board system. Think about why you either went with a digital menu board solution or why you are now considering going this direction. The overwhelming response to this (other than for the “wow” factor) is to be able to make item, price and promotional changes quickly and easily. Now think about the frequency at which this will be done. Is it worth staffing or delegating responsibility for an individual to manage a system like this?  Conversely, when the system fails, is it worth the headache of tracking down the company who sold you the system and set it up for you, shook your hand, patted you on the back and said “good luck?”  Bannister sheds some light on this area:

It is important to take into account the workload trends within your organization. What do you require of your digital signage system? Will these requirements change suddenly, or is your usage fairly static?  If you know that your workloads will come in batches, with periods of inactivity in between, then you risk wasting resources in an on premise system that you must provision for early on.  In addition, predictable bursts where a company experiences ongoing increases and decreases in demand can also lead to wasted capacity.

Benefit #5 – Downtime is minimized  

Some would argue that this is more of a benefit of an on-site hosting system. There are some instances where they would be correct.  It really depends who the third party is that is hosting your system. Is it the menu board company themselves?  If so, this may concern me. I would call their redundancy, back-up protocol and mostly their general expertise in that area in to question – after all, they are a menu board company.  However, if you go with a reputable company like Amazon, who’s Cloud environment has had ZERO downtime since its inception, you have very little to worry about.

Most restaurant owners/operators can relate to their POS system going down which is the very reason why most POS companies are now requiring their clients to work in the Cloud. They grew tired of servicing networks that were left out of their hands once the installation was complete.

To Summarize:

  • Most people want to avoid monthly fees, thus avoiding a Cloud solution – the problem is, they don’t fully understand the ramifications of doing so
  • There are glaring benefits to working in the Cloud, all of which make the maintenance of the system as least onerous as possible
  • More and more technology companies are moving toward Cloud-based solutions because it makes sense for themselves and the consumer
  • Many of the perceived benefits to on-site hosting (i.e. security) do not relate when speaking specifically about digital menu boards
  • Instead of focusing on IT-related digital menu board hosting issues, focus on what you do best – running a restaurant

Check out a digital menu board solution that works in the Cloud and provides all of the benefits listed here – and more!  Call me today at 888-235-2579 for more information.