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2020 in Perspective | Letter from the Founder

Our family Christmas card this year started with “2020 – a year for the books”. As I thought about this letter I feel the same intro is appropriate. None of us will forget 2020, but probably not for the reasons we would have expected when it began. Let’s put 2020 in perspective as we look to the new year.

The purpose of this letter is to explain the journey of Creating Margin Corporation through this interesting year, and our outlook for 2021. Put simply, while weary from the struggles this year has brought, I am as hopeful as ever about our future. I am particularly optimistic because of how we were able to persevere and evolve through this year.

Q1 – A Growing Team Needed Fine Tuning

January began with big plans in mind. In our company meeting in late December of 2019, we discussed “a rising tide lifting all boats” where workplace technologies were growing in all sectors. We anticipated that our work with Pronestor would continue to prosper. We expected that digital signage would continue to be sought after. Among our product development ideas were LED lite door number signs that could sync with calendar data to complement meeting room touch screens.

In January, we had several crucial projects underway with clients. A primary focus was our website rebuild. This was a ground-up redesign/redevelopment of the site which increased our page count from about 16 to over 42 pages.

In hindsight I realize that the website redesign took a toll on the team. Our hyper focus on that project led some to question leadership’s priorities. By February it was clear that changes had to be made to fix our culture, and we began the process of evaluating each team member’s commitment to our direction as well as how specific skillsets fit within assigned job descriptions.

Working Towards a High Performing Team

Recruitment, hiring, and personnel changes in general have been a major storyline throughout the entire year of 2020. If any fault is to be placed it is on my learning curve understanding who can fit into the company best and for the long haul. I have learned a lot and we will continue to be better at making sure we identify and develop the best people for our team. We are in constant pursuit of being a high performing team, a topic I will address in a future post.

Early March showed a lot of promise for the year, as our sales pipeline was healthy and growing. While we were still learning how to perfect outbound sales attempts, we were hopeful that we could “crack the code” on lead generation within the first two quarters. We were wrapping up the major aspects of the website project by mid March.

Q2 – Getting Better through the Crisis

In Boise Idaho, we began to feel the impact of COVID-19 March 19th (my birthday). We made the call to have all staff work from home that week. We beat Governor Brad Little – and his call for non-essential businesses to work from home – by about five days. While we took our time on the decision, I am proud of how we communicated the decision. We acted quickly to ensure safety of our team members.

Idaho was one of the last states to shut down due to the pandemic, and by the time we had transitioned our team to work from home we were already aware of the worsening state of our project pipeline. We had already been notified that several projects were cancelled or indefinitely delayed. At this time, projections were that companies might be back to work by the Fall. We moved all external projects and opportunities out three months.

Product Development and Partnership

Much of April was spent perfecting our website for SEO purposes, and planning ahead to continue to improve our video production capabilities at HQ. I spent about 10 hours a week in product development mode, assessing how the company could pivot during COVID. We have several ideas spawned during this time that we will continue to develop and bring to market in 2021. Take for instance our foot pedal, an easy way to interactive with digital signage without have to purchase more expensive hardware or use a touch screen.

We also forged an important partnership with Density. Density is a workplace solutions company which offers top notch hardware and software solutions for occupancy tracking in places like offices, campuses, arenas, hospitals and more. We are so excited about Density’s addition to our workplace technology offering of digital signage, room management and now workplace safety and occupancy.

Our assessment of performance across departments continued during Q2. I made the decision to get smaller both to 1) rebuild better and 2) wait out the storm of the pandemic to reassess our sales approach.

By June our team of three FTEs had returned to the office. We had not yet seen the worst of COVID-19 in June.

Q3 – Expanding Creating Margin’s Services

2021 will be Creating Margin’s seventh year of business. For over four years I have envisioned creating a Media Group based off of the skill sets and equipment that we were using to market workplace technology software, hardware and services. With our impressive arsenal of video production equipment (most of which we acquired in late 2019), the break in the action in 2020 allowed time to make Creating Margin Media Group a reality.

Though most of our prior work had been internal, by the end of Q4 we had already landed two deals for video production. Our client list for video production at this point included Humana, Liberty Global and Continental. To this list we added Tribute Sports Management and Just Wisdom Teeth.

While the Media Group will continue to be an integral part of our Technology Group’s marketing efforts, I look forward to competing for work outside of the office helping other companies improve their video presence and marketing efforts overall.

Q3 allowed us to close out several Technology Group projects that had dragged out due to the pandemic.

We also began website and product development for Fresh Clothes, and purchased a van. Our launch of Fresh Clothes came next.

Q4 – Launching Fresh Clothes

One of the major investments in time and capital this year has proven to be Fresh Clothes – a mobile laundry service offering 24 hour return of clothes including ironing and shoe shine services. We made the decision to start Fresh Clothes for several reasons, including:

  1. The opportunity to launch a unique laundry concept that could thrive in any economy, even one beset by a global pandemic
  2. By pairing our familiarity with technology and online marketing we could compete with laundry services locally AND nationally
  3. The privilege of living in Boise Idaho, which is a perfect place to offer such a service. The low cost of living, large household size, and rapidly growing population of Boise makes it a great test bed.
  4. A recognition that this was a business that could be systematized and franchised if executed correctly

The high performing team at Creating Margin deserves great credit for the successful launch of Fresh Clothes. Our ability to quickly create a great marketing website, develop a web app, and design great looking content for use in marketing efforts was extraordinary. We communicated efficiently with prospective customers while the foundation was still being put in place.

We’ve proven that Boise families have an interest in a service like this. We have feedback that our price point is attractive. We have a group of 10 happy families who have transitioned from no cost/early launch customers to aid customers.

Social media was the main driver for Fresh Clothes customer acquisition in 2020. In 2021, mail marketing will drive growth of the business alongside use of social media and other digital advertising methods.

Plans for 2021

These four quarters lead us to where we sit today. Christmas week, a time when business is normally slowing down. We have been stretched this year, many are weary (including me). But we’re set up to excel in 2021 on a variety of fronts.

We have plenty of work planned for 2021. In early 2021 we’ll have several open projects finishing up, and we’ll transition those customers to Managed Services and support. We’ll continue to rebuild our sales pipeline, sorting through those opportunities that have pushed basically since Q2 of last year. Marketing will pick up, and we’ll tell wider audiences about our solutions suite including Density and long term partner Pronestor, as well as our core digital signage expertise.

Product development will continue to be a priority. We will develop new peripheral hardware solutions using GPIO and USB capabilities. These solutions will be used primarily with BrightSign hardware, but may be universal to any digital signage OS. Our CURIO Software Suite will be renamed in the very near future, and we’ll announce that and introduce capabilities.

We will continue to compete for video production work, leveraging the growing capabilities we’ve developed as a team. We have several internal use video projects, and have a couple more for Fresh Clothes we’ll finish out as well. Building partnerships in the channel is so important to us, and that will continue to be a focus in 2021. We’re very interested in partnering with more members of NSCA, PSNI and AVIXA.

Closing Thoughts – Keeping 2020 in Perspective

Hard times are the fertile soil we need in order to grow. In hard times, it’s easier to identify what is essential and what is wasteful or not conducive to success. That accurately summarizes my experience in 2020. I have grown tremendously through this year, and I know that I can say the same for each member of our team. But more than growing individually, I am confident that this company – Creating Margin – an entity that is somewhat it’s own creature – has grown as well. 2020 in perspective reminds us that through this year we strengthened CM by broadening our products and services. We added immense capability to the website. We have done some great work this year for which we can all be proud. 2021 will find us equipped to grow more effectively.

So with these thoughts, I want to wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Whether you’re a team member or a customer, thank you for your efforts. If you’re a prospective customer, we welcome you and look forward to meeting you. Have a restful holiday everyone, more good news to come!

 

How Tracking Room Occupancy Helps Ensure COVID Safety

Was “social distancing” a term before COVID-19? I don’t recall hearing it before March 2020 (and keep in mind, I once worked as an intern studying global pandemic influenza)!

But now “social distancing” is our watchword, and rightly so as COVID-19 spreads, seemingly unabated. Given this reality, organizations must have tools to understand how many people are in a space in order to manage risk and help people stay safe.

Three months ago we took steps to partner with a leading provider of people counting systems called Density.io. Now an preferred partner with certifications in Density’s tools, Creating Margin is excited to share the range of functions of occupancy tools with our current and prospective customers.

Density works using a hardware/software combination that allows eye-safe depth sensing laser technology to see a person moving into or out of an entryway. Placed specifically at the entrance(s) of a room, one or many sensors can accurately track the number of people in that room at any given time. Importantly – given recent privacy concerns – Density is completely anonymous. The technology is unable to distinguish any Personally Identifiable Information (PII), much less store it.

Among the many attractive features of the Density software suite is the ability to easily configure the devices using the Set Up App, and start tracking occupancy in your rooms of choice. The administrative UI is quite simple, allowing for SMS Text or Email alerts to be sent to your mobile device in the event a room is over-occupied, so that a group may be warned of the possible danger.

Density’s tools are immediately valuable during this pandemic and beyond, and the Creating Margin team can implement these solutions quickly as you plan a return to work, campus, coffee shop and more.

As we continue to define the makeup of safe workspaces, Creating Margin will share our insights with you – our valued customer – as we continue to strive to be your embedded technology partner.

COVID-19 and the Rise of the Engaging Workplace : Part Three

This is the third of three entries where I’ve shared Creating Margin’s experience with the COVID-19 pandemic, the worldwide shift to Work from Home, and how these dynamics may forever change our expectations of the workplace.

In the first entry, I shared about Creating Margin and our experience moving the team to work from home in response to COVID-19.

In the second entry I shared some insights into the global shift to Work from Home, and discussed modern concepts of the workplace including the failed Open Office and the more popular Activity Based Workspace.

The Rise of the Engaging Workplace

On a visit to OtterBox in Fort Collins Colorado around 2012, I was impressed that they had installed a steel slide for staff and visitors to get from the second floor office spaces down to the lobby of the building. We learned that OtterBox used flexible meeting spaces, digital signage, meeting room signs for quick booking, and even booking apps on their cell phones. They had a kitchen and coffee shop in the office, and opportunities to get outside for a refresher while walking between buildings.

Otterbox was one of my first visits to what I’ll call an “engaging workplace”. The visit helped me realize that workplaces could be genuinely fun, exploratory, technologically “easy to use”, comfort zone-stretching places. In the corporate world, seated behind a desk for most of the day, we’ve all grown up a little too fast.

Otterbox was one of my first visits to what I’ll call an “engaging workplace.” The visit helped me realize that workplaces could be genuinely fun, exploratory, technologically “easy to use”, comfort zone-stretching places.

 

Many companies understand the opportunity. On a recent visit with Humana in Louisville, Kentucky we had another example of an engaging workplace. They were serving gourmet food in the cafeteria. We had meetings in a variety of room types (a recording studio and the executive boardrooms stood out). We learned that the treadmill desks on the second floor are nearly always in use. Visiting with Humana, I understood a clear purpose to each space and an overall design vision geared towards encouraging collaboration.

While Humana’s scale and business challenges are entirely different than Otterbox’s – and my visits were over eight years apart – I sense that the solution to “bringing people back into work” after COVID-19 will look similar for most companies today.

Five Defining Features of An Engaging Workplace

I recently watched an interview with Senator Lindsey Graham concerning the economic stimulus package addressing COVID-19. Graham was concerned that with this relief bill, laid-off workers will receive more money than what they were making at work. Graham predicted that this may end up deterring people from returning to work.

While the majority of office workers are salaried (US Bureau of Labor Statistics), Graham’s concerns about whether those who have lost their jobs will return to work may apply to white collar workers. With wide ranging layoffs now impacting Corporate America, workplaces designed around engaging concepts will be more successful convincing staff that it’s worth it to return to work.

Let’s define what an Engaging workplace might look like. As we do this, I’d like to consider how two of the technologies that Creating Margin has specialized in now for over six years – digital signage and workplace management/booking systems – might play a part in this shift.

Here are five features of the Engaging Workplace.

Provide Ready Access to Important Data and Information

An Engaging Workplace will provide ready access to relevant and updated data and information across devices.

Content Management Systems (CMS) and digital signage networks can help facilitate this ready access. In a CMS, content updates can be made by staff, a third party, or feed from a database. Content can be created and sent to specific screen or group of screens.

The placement of digital signage displays is important, and in our experience, customers will choose heavily trafficked areas. That said, management often requests multizone dashboards to summarize KPIs and allow for what has been called visual management.

In order to share data widely, one must collect it. A meeting management solution like Pronestor can be helpful in tracking different types of meetings, equipment, and catering bookings. Pronestor’s Insights tool allows for data about workspace and technology use to be summarized. Using digital signage, dashboards can be shared across the organization.

Allow for Flexibility and Team Building Activities

Engaging Workspaces will allow for flexibility of seating and unusual team building activities, and foster culture in the process.

Activity Based Workspaces are known for their flexibility. In an ABW, teams can blend and management often sits among their team in the same space. In his book Team of Teams, General Stanley McChrystal argues that organizations will look to teams made up of members of different teams to improve communications and efficiency. Helping blended teams to form while remaining connected to their department will play a big part in the Engaging Workplace.

But let’s take this a step further. How can our workspaces also encourage team building activities? I think about the ropes course that I visited with a project team during my IMBA program. Or the trust fall exercise where you fall back and depend on team members to catch you. An Engaging Workplace could allow for activities like these to foster connection and learn about team members’ strengths and weaknesses. What are other examples of what this looks like? Open spaces in the office, fitness equipment, or encouraging employees to take breaks and engage in activities.

Some of the word “Engaging” speaks to company culture, and this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Companies who are concerned about culture will make sure that the workplace aligns with that vision.

Digital signage can make the use of flexible spaces more efficient. If a huddle area isn’t in use, why not repurpose the screen to show announcements and pertinent info? Live-streaming company addresses is a common use of digital signage tools.

It takes advanced software technologies to keep flexible workspaces from becoming a free for all. Pronestor is what we recommend for this advanced technology suite. Pronestor allows for spontaneous booking of defined rooms and hot desking. Using the simple user interface (UI), even complex meetings can be created or updated.

Blend the Physical and Virtual Worlds

Engaging workplaces will find creative ways to blend the physical and virtual worlds.

The physical and virtual worlds can be blend in a variety of ways. This video wall in Netflix’s Los Angeles headquarters is an example. Standing in the room surrounded by screens, you can be placed in a different world as the content changes.

Consider too the idea of a “virtual office” with digital meeting rooms which can be occupied by Avatars of employees. We might call this the “context aware workplace” where staff may be distant but can still feel connected in a digital space made to look and feel like an office. This would be a sort of Second Life for Business.

Digital signage can play a part here as well. What if a screen on the wall could also play host to meeting participants’ Avatars? This would allow staff who are in the office to observe the meeting as if outside the meeting room. Adding a tangible element to a virtual meeting would improve the physical office’s energy, provide evidence of productivity, and help accountability for meetings.

Pronestor’s Planner software is built around the process of booking meetings and managing both physical and virtual resources.

Hardware Testing Areas

The engaging workplace has a dedicated space for testing solutions before they are delivered to customers.

One of the most useful areas in Creating Margin’s office here in Boise Idaho is our hardware lab. In the hardware lab we can take software applications and test on the hardware that we’ll in the field. Our emphasis on the QA process is important to confirm that the solutions we are providing are stable.

We test digital signage in our hardware lab. Staff can track an order of priority for application testing, and myriad other tasks.

Incorporate Showrooms for Demonstrating Real World Applications

Engaging workplaces will allow for real-world applications to be installed and running, so that visitors can see technology in action.

Using the office as a showroom to wow potential customers must be as old as the office itself. I’m sure that business owners on the early manufacturing floors would proudly show how efficiently the business was running. I’ve seen these “customer experience centers” (CECs), across industries and in both B2B and B2C companies. Even A/V Integrator companies are now implementing showrooms. This shows how valuable the “showroom as a sales tool” can be.

Concluding Thought

In conclusion, I want to encourage you. There is much to be hopeful about in this time despite the prevailing bad news. Society continues to advance, despite the lives lost to COVID-19. Companies will come out of this crisis with better awareness of the importance of the office space.

Overall, I challenge you to take COVID-19 as an opportunity to return to your workplace re-energized, open to ideas of how to upgrade it to achieve its full potential.

I challenge you to take COVID-19 as an opportunity to return to your workplace re-energized, open to ideas of how to upgrade it to achieve its full potential.

Think We Could Help?

Creating Margin has teamed up with Density.io to create a revolutionary workspace and campus occupancy solution.

Just Click Here or Call Us at 1-(844)-273-8464 for more info.

COVID-19 and the Rise of the Engaging Workplace: Part Two

This is the second of three entries where I’ll share Creating Margin’s experience with the COVID-19 pandemic, the worldwide shift to Work from Home, and how these dynamics may forever change our expectations of the workplace.

In the previous entry, I shared my experience moving our team to Work from Home. I wrote about how this trend is happening worldwide in a way we couldn’t have imagined just months ago. I introduced Creating Margin as a workplace technology provider and embedded partner for our valued customers.

The Trend. Now Speed It Up!

Working from Home has been growing more common for many years. A 1998 Harvard Business Review article speculated that 30 million to 40 million people in the US were telecommuting or working from home. In 2016, Gallup estimated that 43% of Employees work remotely (outside of the office) at least sometimes and that the trend was growing. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 56% of today’s US workforce could in theory work remote, even though only 3.6% WFH half-time or more. Where are we headed? GWA suggests that 25-30% of the workforce may WFH one or more days a week within the next two years. So COVID-19 isn’t creating a new shift to WFH, merely amplifying a shift that is already happening.

How Workplaces became “The Office”

It’s worth considering what we’re losing as we (temporarily?) migrate homeward. The modern office has a rich history according to K2 Space and Lucy Kellaway of the BBC.

Cubicles to the Open Office

As the personal computer gradually transformed how we do business, we took a step back in our humanity. Few workplace designs have been more criticized than cubicles. Often parodied in movies such as Office Space, “cubicle farms” have thankfully gone out of vogue. Younger staff with a repulsion for cubicles have preferred workplaces setup with no partitions. Arranging the same number of desks without partitions came to be called the “open office”. Amazingly, open offices have been tried since the 1800’s, and have always been reviled!

The original “Open Office”, and just as unpopular

Activity Based Workspaces

The advent of laptops and mobile phones helped usher in the most recent office design concept we have of Activity Based Working. Activity based design emphasizes flexible desks, break out rooms, and phone booth rooms, which offer privacy during calls (if limited leg room). A special emphasis seems to be on outlets within reach, whiteboards, and televisions for sharing our mobile device screens. The comforts that were lost during in the open office are slowly returning to our workplaces. Research shows that Activity Based Working may improve employee eating behaviors, productivity and satisfaction.

What Defines An Activity Based Workspace?

Flexible Desks / Hoteling

Easy Booking

Small Group “break out rooms”

Meeting “phone booths”

Blended Teams Seating

Global Reach of Technologies

Creating Margin’s work to implement digital signage and workplace technologies has enhanced many customers’ Activity Based Workspaces. For instance, booking an impromptu meeting is easier than ever for our customers. Mobile phones can be connected to Bluetooth speakers, or streamed to a TV. Hot desking allows for staff to easily find a workspace from multiple floors, or even a different building.

Now the Rise of the Engaging Workplace

Activity based workplace design has been successful, but as COVID-19 recedes and we return to our workplaces, we’ll see the rise of the engaging workplace. What does an engaging workplace look like? That will be the subject of my next entry.

This was the second of three entries where I’ll share Creating Margin’s experience with the COVID-19 pandemic, the worldwide shift to Work from Home, and how these dynamics may forever change our expectations of the workplace.

In the third and final entry, I will explore how we may realize how valuable an office environment can be now that we “don’t have it”, and explore five defining features of an Engaging Workplace. I will provide more information about how Creating Margin offers solutions to help you develop an Engaging Workplace.


Think We Could Help?

Creating Margin has teamed up with Density.io to create a revolutionary workspace and campus occupancy solution.

Just Click Here or Call Us at 1-(844)-273-8464 for more info.

COVID-19 and the Rise of the Engaging Workplace : Part One

This is the first of three entries where I’ll share Creating Margin’s experience with the COVID-19 pandemic, the worldwide shift to Work from Home, and how these dynamics may forever change our expectations of the workplace.

Moving to Work from Home

As humanity battles the invisible spread of COVID-19 around the world, Americans have only just begun to pack up their workspaces and bring them home. Guest rooms, closets, basements, and tool sheds are being rearranged and repurposed to be that “work away from work” that they have always wanted. If it turns out you don’t have a suitable space at home, Zoom Meetings is ahead of Microsoft Teams in allowing you to use a background image of your choice to hide your humble abode from coworkers’ prying eyes.

Certainly, COVID-19 will transform our lives in many ways. This week I spoke to the GM of a hotel that our team at Creating Margin recently completed a digital signage project with. Cainan told me that COVID-19 is projected to impact the hospitality industry six times worse than September 11th, 2001. A dire outlook for sure, and probably true for at least a few more months. In time, tourism will rebound, and – once we gain herd immunity to this novel coronavirus – large gatherings like conventions and tradeshows will again be possible. As social creatures, we will all look forward to this return to normal.

Image showing work from home statistics

WHAT WILL THE EXPERIMENT SHOW?

While Silicon Valley companies have shown that Work From Home (WFH) policies can be successful – and, as tech companies are inclined to do, trumpet their findings from the rooftops – most SMBs await the verdict on whether this can work on such a large scale. TIME has called this “the largest work from home experiment” ever conducted.

One area that will be forever imprinted by this crisis is our workplaces. This week I’ve several articles on this topic and surrounding concerns. I thought about the role that office amenities alongside work from home policies can play in employee retention. I added my experiences, having worked for over 12 years with dozens of Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of small and medium sized businesses to sell and implement digital signage and workplace technologies. My goal for these articles is to offer a glimpse into the future of our workplaces and how they will transform in the wake of COVID-19. I will explain how the digital signage and workplace management technologies that Creating Margin delivers will help to create workplaces defined by their experiences, not just a place with a desk, computer monitor and some family trinkets. The workplace of the future will facilitate experiences and connect teams by triggering ideas, nourishing culture, allowing for real world testing of software/hardware applications, and more. The prospect of experiences may be more important than ever as employees look for reasons to justify returning to an office.

Who Is Creating Margin?

I am the founder of a technology startup in Boise Idaho called Creating Margin. Our team at Creating Margin specializes in selling, installing and supporting digital signage and workplace management systems. One thing that makes us different is that we fill a specific need for customers which creating the content that end users show on a digital signage screen. Digital signage content might look like a 3D graphical map of a multi-floor facility, a touch screen user interface (UI), or the branded template that displays company announcements in the best way possible. We provide complimentary professional services to program solutions or can configure existing solutions/templates to work for a unique business. And we’ve been successful: in our six years of business we’ve been able to implement digital signage and meeting management tools for over 200 organizations.

Creating Margin Moves to Work from Home (WFH)

I’ll admit – moving the staff to WFH was uncomfortable for me. I believe strongly that being physically present with team members is a crucial part of scaling a start-up business, so I took some time to make the decision. The bell curve of Coronavirus’ spread made the decision for me and not a moment too soon – on our third WFH day, the Governor of Idaho Brad Little mandated that nonessential businesses send employees home. Idaho now has roughly 700 cases; at the time of our move to WFH, only 2 weeks ago, there were fewer than 20.

This is the first of three entries where I’ll share Creating Margin’s experience with the COVID-19 pandemic, the worldwide shift to Work from Home, and how these dynamics may forever change our expectations of the workplace.

In the next entry I will further explore this massive shift to Work from Home – which, it turns out, has been happening since the 1990’s – and we’ll discuss the concept of “the office” and how it came to be.


Think We Could Help?

Creating Margin has teamed up with Density.io to create a revolutionary workspace and campus occupancy solution.

Just Click Here or Call Us at 1-(844)-273-8464 for more info.

The Golden Age of Software (Over)Development

You’ve heard it said that “it’s the golden age of software development”. It truly is. Technologies and their accompanying software tools continue to make our lives easier and our days more productive.

But there is a less discussed side to this golden age of software development. Never have so many software developers employed by competing businesses worked on software tools boasting all the same features. This is particularly evident in our digital signage world. Need a multi-zone presentation? Yep, we can do that. Easy to use software user interface? Sure, we’ve got that nailed. Wayfinding? Yes, we support several ways to do that. Interactivity? I’ll show you how that is done. There are countless digital signage software products out there, and if you set most of them side by side, their capabilities are indistinguishable.

Pricing: A Race to the Bottom

What does this trend of feature parity among digital signage software tools equate to?

First, increasing competition in software pricing: as tools move to feature parity, buyers can more easily drive down prices. The technologies used to update digital signage are basic, and this leaves incumbent products vulnerable to new entrants. The laws of Supply and Demand take hold, and discerning buyers will use the oversupply to their advantage. At Creating Margin, we see this more and more often in competitive situations.

Replaceability: Don’t let the door hit you on the way out

Second, parity among competitive digital signage software feature allows customers to easily jettison their incumbent solution. Sure, like any technology, digital signage software might as well be a foreign language to some people. But for those self-starting technologists out there, learning digital signage software is a relatively painless exercise. From there on, learning a new digital signage software is like getting a new toothbrush – other options might be a different color or a different brand name, but they work the same way. In our ‘what have you done for me lately’ culture, if a customer discovers a soft spot within the Support processes of an organization, a replacement option is only a Google search away. It’s hard to blame the customer for exploring other options, particularly when recurring software fees can appear unnecessary, and in some cases exorbitant (like where an expensive, feature-rich software is never used, and content is not being updated).

Expertise: Focus on Applications, help your Reps do the same

Third, feature parity shines a spotlight on the competencies that organizations have with specific industries. All things being equal, a prospect is even more likely to go with the spokesperson who “speaks the language” of that industry and has the references to prove it. This is an interesting conundrum for digital signage software. In an industry where software products have the same features, why not sell them to any buyer that comes along? It’s tempting to “take every comer” – to try to be everything to everyone – but we must resist this temptation and learn to say no if the fit isn’t obvious. In Polonius’ Advice to Laertes, Shakespeare once said that if you’re true to yourself, you can’t be false to anyone, and decision-makers can likely see through salesmanship to determine if a company is good at what they do.

Creating Margin Creates Content, Not Software

What does it mean to be a software company in this golden age of software development? From what I can tell, many software companies will dedicate themselves to the task of “we are going to try and do every last thing better than the next guy.” Even if this means redeveloping the wheel, companies will hack away at that stone – asking for capital along the way – to create an object that will roll no matter how many companies are on the same path. The more difficult proposition has always been to partner with other companies and to diligently fill gaps, taking incremental steps to build a durable organization.

Providing incredible value by partnering with industry leaders has been key to our success since I founded Creating Margin in 2014. On our About Us page, you can start to learn more about Creating Margin. We have a broad offering across two spaces – workplace management, and digital signage solutions. We always tailor our recommendations to your needs and provide and feature-rich solutions. We’re proud of our partnerships with Pronestor ApS of Denmark and BrightSign LLC of California USA and our own capabilities in content creation, digital signage IT consulting, and training developed over a decade of experience in these industries.

While it’s tempting to get caught up in the excitement of racing other teams in code-a-thons, our approach is instead to develop applications where we can provide unique value, while focusing on our strengths in content creation and professional services.