Need a bigger shoe?
Eventually, if you're like me, you'll push the limits of you CMS. I like to do more. Maybe you started out wanting to push images to a single display. However, as your business grows, you may now need to pull live data and push that to your display giving your staff up to date metrics to judge business decisions. Does your current Content Management system provide that? Maybe it doesn't. Maybe you didn't know you needed that. I've discovered over the last twelve years as a designer and CMS admin I needed an overly robust shoe to perform in. I outgrew my last CMS and needed more functionality. FourWinds was that bigger shoe, for me. As I grow to do more with my digital signage the FourWinds platform is growing faster and I can't keep up. Thats a good thing! You don't want to eventually outgrow your shoe, you want your shoe to grow with you. Changing your CMS, because it can't keep up what with your business needs is painful. I done it three times and it's a pain, to say the least. To sum it up, the FourWinds content management system seems to have few boundaries and I like that the most.
If I had to come up with what I like least about the FourWinds software my list wouldn't be long. I have to separate my gripes into two categories. Are my issues caused by the media player I'm choosing to use or is it the software? Most of my gripes are directed at the media player which, really, has nothing to do with the software at all. So, separating the two, I would wish for a way to bulk upload assets. Each month I create, upload and schedule 40-60 promotional assets. If I could select, schedule, set duration of play, days to play, upload, etc. as a bulk list without doing it one at a time would save me considerable time. That would be what I like least about this software.
It's not perfect, but it's as close as any signage software has gotten
I have done countless projects using FWi as the foundation for our solutions. No matter what the project required, I was able to get it done with FWi. They have some of the best features available for data integration, content playback, performance, and network management. It's also quick to pick up and use without any training if you're just trying to get content on to some screens quickly. For those looking to do very complex projects, the software is powerful and can do just about anything, but you may need to be somewhat familiar with more advanced technical concepts. No "wizards" found here.
The way locations, templates and content cascade down the network tree is both familiar and intuitive, but don't let the simplicity fool you: there are powerful features and settings just under the surface if you know where to look that allow you to build almost anything you can think of.
Accomplishing complex solutions like integrating unique data structures or getting certain behaviors to function properly can involve some trial and error. Documentation for more advanced abilities in the past has been notoriously lacking, although there has been some improvement since they switched to their community portal. The appearance of the CMD software seems a bit antiquated, like old Windows programs.
Sometimes great sometimes no answers... I have been pending info now for about 2 weeks
Automation, i do not have to manually enter information. It saves me time when it works
Inconsistency. Sometimes i call and the person is helpful and great and other is like a tunnel with no end
Streamlined our signage system
Great customer service that is quick to repsond and offer insights in solving problems we have encountered with our deployment.
We had 3 old systems, one for wayfinding, one for signage and 1 a bit of both. Four Winds Interactive allowed us to consolidate our signage/wayfinding into 1 system and gain loads of functionality at the same time.
I could build the system I imagined from scratch utilizing Four Winds Interactive. This included creating my own templates, design and touch functionality to make it work best for our audience. It could integrate with 3rd party data utilizing JSON or XML which makes it extremely versatile.
Many past problems I have run into including documentation, etc are being actively addressed by the company with enhancements coming to the customer portal.
Content Manager Desktop is only available on Windows (which creates extra steps for Mac users like myself) but with their new Cloud system I need to open Content Manager Desktop less frequently.
FWI in higher ed
In higher education, we're trying to improve the student experience so that we can attract and retain students. FWI helps to keep students engaged with what is happening on campus.
The strongest aspect of FWI signage software is the ability to integrate with so many sources of data, including RSS, XML, SQL, and JSON. This has allowed us to greatly reduce the time spent manually managing sign content, as the signs update themselves as information is entered into our many different systems of record which serve as sources of content/data.
The Content Manager Desktop application, as it exists currently, is Windows-only and is much too complex for a beginning user who will only need to make simple image/video content updates. The application is incredibly powerful and makes sense to a power user, but I'm glad to see the FWI Cloud content library start to become available to serve the needs of basic content contributors.
Easy to Use
FWI has been a great partner for over 10 years now, providing a solution that has grown with our digital needs in hospitality, while providing a great service and support over the years.
Ease of use, and flexibility. Being cloud based also provides the ability to make changes quickly and on the fly as needed. It is great to be able to deploy these players rather quickly and have the flexibility to do so as needs and client demands change.
Not much that I have not liked about this software. This is not a negative comment regarding the software, but being a cloud based solution it is critical to have a proper infrastructure behind this solution. This solution does not require a high amount of bandwidth to manage, but it is critical to have a stable connection to get the full benefits. This is specially important when pushing large contents like videos or HD images from the content manager to the players.
Great Piece of Software....If You're Like Everyone Else
It started out great with promises of "you can do anything" and for the first year, that was true. We got a lot of unique builds and customized signage needs taken care of with superior customer service. Over the years, however, because we're the only client of theirs that utilizes our unique build, we've been ignored for other clients who aren't as complicated and are willing to pay for help. We are given promise upon promise with very lackluster results.
It gets the job done for dynamic signage that most competitors can't perform (i.e. live data, IPTV, motion graphics, etc.)
If you are in need of something custom and unique, you are put on the backburner while other customers who are more "standard" are taken care of (i.e. we've been asking and were promised a Unified Player for years.....they usurped development of it for a Cloud based storage system, which, while useful, ignores any of our needs that were promised to us).
Most versitile display system software I have seen.
This system has made my 1000+ unit display system monster something that can now be managed and modified daily with only two people required for content creation, scheduling and deployment and system configuration.
My prior display system was extensively customized because the base software had little functionality. The Four Winds Display System has allowed me eliminate my custom programs because all the functionality is built into the system. I have been able to transition myself from a custom program to a user because of this system. Life is much less complicated now.
I have used the system for over 4 years now at 20 different locations. I recommend using a fanless computer solution for long player lifespan or use their Samsung smart TV technology to help minimize costs. I believe they have a cloud based system available or coming very soon.
Enterprise Digital Sign Media Software
FWI has been helpful as we implemented various systems over the years -
For basic 'what is happening' on campus
For electronic dining hall menus
Displaying campus information as a display sign, and then showing interactive applications to allow students to release pending print jobs at specific locations: this implementation allowed us to replace our aging single purpose thin-clients with smaller and simple to manage and update nuc pcs.
We haven't seen this with the other sign software vendors
The ability to customize the output for different purposes - we can utilize the built in functionality for specific implementations without necessarily developing in-house custom applications - and if there is a functionality question, their customer support has been very helpful in working though those issues.
At times, with the many different types configuration options available, one needs to refer to documentation to find the specific feature(s) one is looking to implement for a specific purpose. Most of the documentation is feature based or driven - more design examples utilizing typical features by configuration or deployment purpose may be of help to those just starting out with the software.
Simply the best you can buy
We have been able to not only bring the basic day-to-day event information to our organization but to take our signage messaging to unique areas that we did not originally foresee. The breadth of where we can take this seems to be limitless.
FWI is constantly innovating, staying current regarding industry trends and progressively adding useful functionality and features.
There can be a steep learning curve for new users. A drag and drop GUI for general users may be a good feature in the future.
Four Winds V5.X.X
Overall I think Four Winds is the best choice of software for my companies needs. I would not suggest Four Winds to a small company as it is a steep price to get started. It does allow you the most options possible out of all of the signage software's I have worked with in regards to customization. I am very happy in all with the software and look to use it greatly in the future.
-Great for large companies to manage multiple locations
-Almost all systems are able to be integrated into the Four Winds Software
-Process intensive software on the players
-Thick Client for administrators (CMD)
-Web version does not have 100% functionality of Thick Client at this time
FWI A Great Digital Sign Partner for Higher Education
The ability to update information in the digital age to numerous campuses within a few minutes makes this a very powerful messaging and information tool.
The stability of the product provides a no worry approach to developing and deploying digital content. The power of the product makes it possible to create between quite simple to very complex.
The piece that is missing, is a faster way to deploy the same graphic to multiple signs. An application for drag and drop of one image to be deployed to as many signs as that app is active in a region would be so awesome.
Thoughts from the Westin Seattle
FWI is customer concentric. They almost always make you feel like you are their only customer. At time support can be slow and they we struggle with a challenge a little too long before sending it up the escalation path
Content Manager is easy to you and intuitive. It is a great place to build a sandbox and test different themes. It is fully configurable and can be fine tuned to address any eventuality
In the content manager, the initial design is cumbersome since you have to enter and exit the template to see the end result.
Overall, Humam was very helpful and I frequently would wait until he was available to help me!
Software is fairly easy to use with no prior knowledge and the support crew is easy to contact and answer questions as needed. And didn't mind when called about the same issue multiple times.
Sometimes I'd have to running to look for accessories to use when needed, which wasn't a big deal but I felt bad for having to keep the support team on the line while doing so.
I Like that I can reach the tech support at anytime and get a quick response. We are a hotel so things happen at super early hours or super late hours of the day. Great team!!
I like the freedom to add images, power point slices and be able to free type. For me I like to personalize my groups so I can always type a personalize message to my groups.
at this moment I have encounter any issues.
Excellent Customer Service!
My overall experience is wonderful! It is a busy world nowadays and even when I may have forgotten to followup with FWI, they took the time to follow up with me to ensure the project was completed. They made me feel part of the family and not just another number.
The ease of use and ability to customize the service how I need it.
Nothing really! Great service that helped my company grow!
Four winds Richmond Marriott shortpump
the only issue I had was its a self installation , once explained how to deploy and program each content player its a breeze. even with little IT experience.
the software is easy to understand and works with little or no issues, the FWI support covers any questions
did not have any real dislikes a lot of engineering went into software to insure minimal issues
Ease of Use
I've enjoyed using the software and customer service is good.
I like that it's easy to use and install. I felt that it was easy to configure and the price of training was good too. I like that they allow you to do online training.
Can't think of anything at the moment. I enjoy using this software.
Cadillac of Digital Signage Software
Working with FWi is always a pleasure because they are focused on development and customer satisfaction.
Functionality, support, and community. There are a lot of things that can be done with this software other than just displaying visual content.
Steep learning curve, but tons of resources are available
Great Products & Customer Service
Very pleased. Quick responses and very knowledgeable staff.
I like the appearance of the reader boards and the diverse options we have in changing the appearance to meet our groups needs.
Somewhat complicated to use if not familiar with this type of system.
It is flexible and powerful and constantly being improved
My version relies on IE for HTML which has caused several problems. I understand the updated version has the option of chromium though. Have had issues with powerpoint as well.
Great Solution for multiple sites deployment
I work at a college and we use the signage to advertise internal events and functions to our on site students and faculty. We also have interactive touch displays for wayfinding and information centers. My next goal is to get some to act as building directories for students to locate faculty and staff offices.
versatile feature sets, "magic folders" make adding or subtracting content as easy as drag and drop so we can set things up for ANY user to be able to add content from their department without having to know the software inside and out.
It is a little difficult to fully grasp all the controls from the administrative side.
IT Comm Manager
Four Winds Interactive understands customer service. They are committed to providing great support for current customers instead of focusing attention solely on gaining new customers. Not many companies around that understand the importance of taking care of their sutomer base.
Easy to learn the basics to get started.
Can be a bit overwhelming when you dive into the higher end functionality but worth tackling the learning curve.
City of Vermillion, SD
We utilize the software for citizen engagement. It is a great way to reach citizens that do not utilize social media/website. I have had outstanding service with the FWI team since I started in this position in our organization. The staff that initially set up the software are no longer with the organization, so I've greatly appreciated the patience and assistance of FWI staff.
This software allows our local government an additional avenue to reach our citizens who do not utilize social media via our government channel.
I think that the Con lies with my own lack of tech skills and lack of knowledge about the software.