It tends to be complicated, time-consuming and expensive for pure-play digital signage software companies to add functionality outside the norms of digital signage, like a CMS adding point of sale software to its overall offer. But it is relatively easy for companies that do other kinds of software to get into basic digital signage, and interactive tools.
We've seen video conferencing applications, for example, add some basic screensaver capabilities to their platforms, so that inactive conferencing displays can be multi-purposed as entry-level digital signage screens seen by people passing meeting rooms.
Those sorts of things would not be all that worrying to digital signage software shops that are targeting workplace, because their pure-play platforms can do a hell of a lot more. But now we're seeing companies adding other, more involved capabilities that start to make them viable alternatives to digital signage CMS platforms, particularly when the need is well-defined and narrow.
Consider the news this week from Zoom - the video conferencing platform that saw huge growth when the pandemic hit and offices cleared out. The company is now marketing Workspace Reservation, new code integrated within Zoom that gives working teams in hybrid offices the ability to pre-book office workspaces, see who else is planning to come in, and get recommendations about where to sit. Zoom says some beta users even used it to book parking spaces in advance.
Says Zoom in announcing it:
Designed to provide maximum flexibility, Zoom Workspace Reservation enhances and streamlines hot-desking and hoteling experiences. Here are just a few of the ways Workspace Reservation helps support hybrid teams and system admins:
- Flexible hot-desking options: Choose your space reservation time and duration – only a few short hours or a full day.
- On-demand booking: Reserve spaces upon your arrival by using a kiosk at the front desk, the scheduling panel outside of a Zoom Room, or directly at a workspace.
- Intuitive user experience: Teams can use a familiar interface and platform they know and love to book in-office workspaces.
- A streamlined process: Easily upload custom office maps and seating locations directly from the admin portal to create a seamless booking process.
- Simplified space management: Add printable QR codes to workspaces and reserve a space on the fly.
- Workspace optimization with analytics: Use data collected by Workspace Reservation to learn more about how your teams are using their workspace and assist you in planning and building a more efficient and effective workspace.
Accessible as a Zoom App in your desktop client or through your web browser, Workspace Reservation allows you to book a range of workspaces, including:
- Zoom Rooms
- Zoom Phone Appliances
- Work desks
- Personal meeting rooms, screening rooms, and other configured spaces
“Employers continue to prioritize hybrid office management as they seek a secure, easy-to-use, and comprehensive solution to help connect in-office and remote workers,” says Jeff Smith, Group Product Manager, Head of Zoom Rooms and Whiteboard. “Workspace Reservation expands on Zoom’s already robust hybrid work offerings and helps employees have access to the tools they need to do their best work on a given day.”
One of the big opportunities and customer asks coming out of (someday, please!) of the COVID era was ways to organize, manage and guide hybridized workplaces that switched over from assigned workstations to hot desks. Several companies have designed and added that functionality to what they were already doing, in many cases, with meeting room displays and management. It seemed, certainly, like a smart thing to get into.
But ... companies like Zoom, which did more than $4 billion in sales in 2021, have a bit of a leg up, given their resources and installed base. A company could add third-party software, but if it's already using Zoom for conferencing, and this is available, would they?
In a different twist on that, I know Appspace - which has evolved from digital signage to workplace experience - has a native integration with Microsoft Teams, one of the other dominant video calling/collaboration platforms.