Welcome to Creating Margin


Which BrightAuthor should I use?

BrightSign units are well known for their consistent reliability in the digital signage industry. Most people would tell you that BrightSign units have very few downsides, especially once they are up and running. For most consumers, once the units are up and running, managing them requires little to no work.

Historically any drawbacks to using BrightSign has actually been with the BrightAuthor Software rather than the actual BrightSign units. “It isn’t Mac friendly”, “The UI is outdated”, “Changing out content via the web is difficult”. These are all valid concerns. Enter BrightAuthor:Connected.

Rather than give BrightAuthor a complete update with features that address these user concerns, BrightSign launched an entirely new App in February of 2020 called BrightAuthor:Connected. This app launched alongside their new ControlCloud and ContentCloud services.

While this new application has been a direct answer to many of the criticisms of the original BrightAuthor (which has now been branded BrightAuthor Legacy), it still leaves something to be desired. In our experience, people migrating from BrightAuthor Legacy to BrightAuthor:Connected are more likely to notice difficulties.

In this blog I want to take a look at some of the reasons a person or organization might consider switching to BrightAuthor:Connected (or- for new networks- start out with BA:Connected). I’ll also overview a few reasons you might wait to pull the trigger on switching from BA Legacy.

BrightAuthor:Connected offers an updated UI

Why Switch to BA:Connected

  1. Ease of Setup – BrightSign has revamped and created an easy setup process for the actual BrightSign Units themselves. With BA:Connected, as long as the unit is on the latest firmware a code will pop up on the screen when you first plug in the BrightSign Unit and from BA:Connected you simply enter that code and it will walk you through a setup process that can have you up and running in less than 5-10 minutes. This is a great upgrade from creating manual setup files on an SD card (which you can still do in BA:Connected by the way). For most consumers or people lacking experience with BrightSign units, this more streamlined setup will be a footnote in their digital signage experience rather than a hurdle.
  2. Mac Support – 10 years ago Mac had nearly no presence in the business world. Mac computers were for artsy creative types who would never need excel or outlook. But times have changed and now companies are starting to run on Apple devices Prior to BA:Connected, if you wanted to manage a BrightSign unit and you had a Mac you needed to run a virtual machine or have a dedicated digital signage management device. Bringing BrightSign to Mac is one of the biggest steps forward BrightSign made with BA:Connected. The software runs on both PC and Mac so even multiplatform offices can collaborate and manage content on their devices. If you work in a Mac-only office, or you have a creative team on Mac, BA:Connected will probably be the clear and obvious choice.
  3. Browser Based UI –Alongside BA:Connected comes ContentCloud. For $99 per year per BrightSign unit you can build, update and manage content completely from any web browser that has an internet connection. This is such a great option if you have a number of contributors who don’t need to know the ins and outs of BrightAuthor but just want to log in and update what’s on a screen. Not having to install an application, share BrightAuthor presentation files and make sure you are publishing the correct version to a display is well worth the roughly $8 a month it costs to use this feature. Quick easy access from anywhere in the world (including a mobile device browser)) to changing content on a screen means content will be updated more, and your digital signage can be more effective.
  4. Updated UI – This one is more a personal preference. I am one of those artsy creative types I mentioned earlier, and I use a Mac in my personal time. So the first time I opened BrightAuthor Legacy I felt like I had jumped back into the mid 90s. The functionality was all there, but BrightAuthor Legacy just looks like accounting software that you would download and run on Windows 98. With BA:Connected BrightSign has really made strides to update the UI to be more modern. I will warn anyone who is starting to feel convinced to switch, this can take some time to adjust to. Buttons and menu items have moved a bit, and with any new software there is a bit of a “learning curve” to get used to the new layout. I think it is a big improvement though.

So you’re ready to go out and make the switch right? Or I’ve convinced you that BA:Connected is the way of the future(To be clear I do think it is the way of the future, especially with BrightSign’s puzzling to decision to rebrand BrightAuthor as BrightAuthor Legacy)? Well, not so fast. There are a few potholes to consider, or potentially avoid if you need to.

Why not Switch

  1. BA:Connected is New – As is the case with any first generation software or devices, new can be synonymous with buggy. In my experience with BA:Connected on both Mac and PC I will randomly get signed out of BSN.Cloud and have to log in again. And while I can say I don’t think I’ve ever had BrightAuthor Legacy crash on me, I’ve had BA:Connected crash a number of times already. These bugs are sure to be ironed out as they are reported and addressed by BrightSigns development team, but if you can hold off on making the switch, it’s something to take into consideration.
  2. New File Type – BA:Connected uses .BPFX while BA Legacy uses .BPF, which means if you have presentations that are already up and running you will need to recreate those presenations if you make the switch to BA:Connected. For some users this won’t take much time. If you have complex multizone interactive presentations however, this endeavor may be a bit of a project.
  3. Is it necessary? – As I alluded to earlier, I think BrightSign’s decision to relabel BrightAuthor as BrightAuthor Legacy means the writing is on the wall for this aging software. As of today BrightSign’s official stance is that they will continue to support the BrightAuthor Legacy software, and they are nowhere near what they would need to have the vast majority of their users migrated to their new ecosystem to pull the plug on support for BrightAuthor Legacy. But someday there will be a focused effort to get users to migrate to BA:Connected. That day is not today. So if it’s not the right time for you or your organization to make the switch…don’t. Come up with a plan to get users comfortable with the software, migrate your content to the BA:Connected, and test the content before you make the leap.

As with any choice there are pros and cons for each software option. If you are brand new to BrightSign and BrightAuthor I would almost always point you to BrightAuthor:Connected. There’s no sense learning the old software just to have it sunset one day and have to migrate all your content and learn a new application. But if you have been using BrightAuthor Legacy for any period of time and don’t have an immediate need that it’s not meeting, I’d say take your time and come up with a planned strategy to make the move. And in the meantime, let some other users report any bugs that might still need to be ironed out.

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.

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.