Top Factors to Consider When Buying a Digital Directory
As technology, economics, and vendors change, the marketplace for digital directories has evolved dramatically in the past few years. It is important to weigh several factors when deciding on digital directory vendors.
1. Operational Simplicity
Let’s face it, property managers have less and less time to perform their daily tasks, much less operate complex technology to keep a directory running. Unless your building has a robust, dedicated technical team who can take time to operate a complex system, be sure to ask some key questions on how to operate the directory:
- Does it require an onsite server to maintain or can all the content management be stored and maintained in a simple cloud-based application?
- How long is the training period for the system? If it is more than 15-20 minutes in total training time, it may not be something simple enough for a property manager’s valuable time.
- When you make listing or content updates are you updating a simple database or recreating a full directory image? In other words, do the tools take the complexity out of making an update or moving the complexity to the property manager or other member of the building staff.
- Is the update portal simple to operate, intuitive for others to do, and does it use common web-based interface tools?
2. Display Quality
We have all seen the cheap televisions at electronics stores or online retailers and people often ask if those can be used for a digital directory. When selecting a digital directory solution, ask the following questions to assure that the display will be vibrant, visible, and built to last:
- Rating: Is the display rated to run 24x7 in a public space or is it a consumer grade display only rated for periodic operation?
- Brightness: Does the display produce 500 NITS or brighter to assure vibrancy in lobbies that have natural light?
- Do they work with trusted, American steel fabricators to design secure enclosures and kiosks or are they using cheap overseas knock-offs imported by the shipload?
- Commercial Grade: Is the display commercial grade and produced by a major manufacturer that will guarantee support for years to come?
- Security: Is the enclosure or mounting hardware secure enough to prevent theft, vandalism, or unintended dislodging of the display?
3. Vendor Quality and Transparency
The final consideration and, potentially, the most important consideration is the skill, experience, and transparency of the vendor providing the digital directory. Although the visitor experience is seemingly simple, the actual requirements to build a simple, robust directory are fairly complex. When assessing a vendor be sure to ask some important questions:
- How much experience does the vendor have with digital directory technology? Have they deployed thousands of directories or is this a new space for them?
- Do they provide a North American-based support staff with real humans answering the phone?
- Do they have in-house designers and customer success managers to work with you and your team to consult, design, and deliver a project that exceeds your expectations?
- Are they honest with you about the support experience or will they “nickel and dime” you with fees after a year?
- Do they have a solid history (ie, not founded within the last 5 years) so you don’t have to worry about them going out of business, leaving you without any support or service?
- Do they source authorized and legal content with licensing associated with the content or are they putting your business at risk by not paying for authorized content?
For many property managers, they are purchasing a digital directory for the first time and don’t want purchase another for many years. It’s critical that they assess carefully the partner that will deliver this solution as it is often the first impression a potential tenant, a valuable visitor, or a trusted partner will have of the building and its experience.