5 Things a Business Needs for an Effective Dashboard Video Wall
Video walls are everywhere in today’s offices and businesses: in huddle rooms and meeting rooms, in hallways and executive offices. When it comes to decision-making, it is important that multiple people are able to look at and consider the same data at the same time—often from different locations—and come to agreement on action items.
However, the sheer volume of data that goes into even the simplest strategy and decision-making session is staggering. The ability to display a great deal of data, images, and often constantly changing figures in a single place becomes paramount. This is where corporate dashboards and the video walls that allow them to be easily displayed and seen come in. But with so many manufacturers and integrators offering video wall dashboard solutions today, the number of features and options available can be overwhelming. Here are five key features that are vital for a dashboard video wall to enable effective collaboration:
- Allows quick and easy sharing of your desktop screen. This may sound obvious, and, of course, most (if not all) solutions and displays have HDMI ports to connect any HDMI-enabled device. But some video wall solutions allow you to share multiple desktop screens simultaneously without the need of HDMI cables by using the network (e.g., using VNC viewer, etc.) which greatly simplifies the logistics of sharing screens (it also eliminates the mess of HDMI cables).
- Display data in a variety of different modes and layouts. Today’s businesses rely greatly on Web analytics and data, and we know the amount of data can easily become overwhelming. A video wall controller that allows you to display your data and dashboards in different layouts and lets you easily switch back and forth between those layouts will help focus on relevant metrics and save precious time in any decision-making process.
The most useful mode for many organizations will be the option to show multiple dashboards or media sources simultaneously. Essentially, this allows you to “lay all of your cards on the table” at once, and minimizes the possibility of important details being overlooked. This can be achieved by overlaying different sources in “panes” on top of a main background source (known as Picture in Picture), or perhaps by dividing the video wall into “Zones” (groups of displays) or by using “MultiWindow” (sections of the displays, divided within the bezels of the displays).
- Display a variety of different sources and formats. Not only do you want a video wall controller that lets you display multiple sources simultaneously in a variety of layouts (and quickly and easily switch them), you also want a solution that supports as many types of content as possible. These include HDMI capture, native video codecs in 4k (and even 8k), still images, HTML5, live camera feed, RTP/RTSP network streaming, multiple independent browser sessions, VNC clients, Content Management Systems (CMS), you name it. In this regard, a software-based solution has its advantages, because a software approach can more easily adapt to advances in content technology.
- It is easy to highlight certain data. This point complements #2 above. The key to an efficient video wall controller is flexibility. You must be able to quickly and easily bring certain parts of your information to the fore and focus on the relevant metrics. For example, the sales team can focus on leads and sales metrics; marketing can focus on Web traffic and campaign engagement; manufacturing can focus on production metrics; and executives can have a general view of all of the above to monitor operations and productivity.
This might mean shifting from a segmented view of multiple sources to a full video wall view of a single source, and then allowing a team member to share her or his desktop to explain further a set of metrics. This process may sound trivial, but with an inflexible video wall controller, it may not be as swift, resulting in a significant loss of time. Ideally, with just a click or two, you would want narrow down to specific figures and then resume the bird’s eye view to discuss the situation more generally.
- It has the option of central or local control. If you have several sites or offices, it is often important that you can manage and control your video wall system, and even deliver content, centrally. It also allows you to pull up usage reports that will always be complete and accurate.
However, it is also important that the solution can be controlled locally when necessary for meetings, events, or other uses. Cloud management of multi-site video wall systems allows organizations to centrally control the content displayed on the video walls of regional offices. This also helps for key decision-making, as they all can rely upon the latest and most “official” data all across the video walls at once. Simply put, no one will make today’s call based on yesterday’s spreadsheet.
When looking for a video wall for dashboard use, keep these five key features in mind. They’ll help you make a good purchase decision, and will help ensure your deployment meets its goals for smoother and more efficient business operations, and better team collaboration.
AV entrepreneur and analyst Timothy Griffin is the founder and CTO of Userful Corporation, a provider of video wall controller and video wall processor solutions for AV & IT professionals to easily control large numbers of displays, including video walls and digital signage, as well as interactive content sources from any browser.