Tag Archives: enabling technology

The Trick

It is not enough to simply systemize content across many different screens. While good and innovative in the past, it simply will not do anymore.

Rather than focus on how well you can get content to as many screens as possible, it will be a much better use of focus to get to the bottom of how you can engage as many people as possible.

This is the new trick.

We’re not in 2010 anymore

How expectations change in such a short amount of time. That’s what technology will do for you.

I remember a few short years ago (not even 3?) that it was great to see digital signage in a restaurant or interactive signage in a hotel. Those types of installations and establishments were at the forefront of what technology could do, how they could turn the settings around us into digital & interactive experiences.

But not now. Those same once-potential-fulfilling installations are now ho-hum. I see them all the time. In fact, I expect to see them all the time in these types of establishments. When I don’t, I don’t necessarily think it a bad thing or even a missed opportunity. Not to the level of when I do see them and see them in their 2010 form – then all I can see is a missed opportunity.

We are now in the time where connections are expected. All around.

Not digital. Or technology.

This might have been great 2-3 years ago. But now, it’s just not enough.

When Technology is Too Much

An Austrian company is putting QR codes on gravestones so friends/family of the departed can view a digital catalogue of their lives.

Now, cemeteries will be another place to whip out your phone and start pointing & shooting & watching to gain an “experience.” Maybe I’m too cynical on this one, but the cemetery is no place for an emerging experience.

Neat(ish) idea. Just seems too insensitive for me.

“Let’s look at the memories” vs. “Let’s remember the memories.” This is how I interpret this move and I suppose, this is the crux of my uneasiness of this – technology makes things too easy, to the point of enabling laziness. We don’t put half of our brain to use because we can rely on technology to do it for us. This fundamental notion of storing things away in our brain to call back on in times of despair or joy – these memories – is being dulled by technology that enables us to store it and ignore it.

Who knows? This might be the way of the future, even in cemeteries. I wouldn’t be surprised. But it sure doesn’t make me feel good.

Maybe the Only Good Thing About QR Codes

Last night at the dinner table, my daughter pulls a sticker with a QR code on it off of a banana. She starts making jokes, doing what she can to make her little brothers laugh, and then says, “this is for your smartphone. And an app or something like that.”

Both me and my wife looked at each other like, “did you tell her that?”

And I said, “what do you mean?”

Daughter said, “you need your smartphone for this sticker.”

And I said, “what makes you think that?”

She said, “this little box is for your smartphone.”

“You’re exactly right,” I said.

Hmmm. Again, me and my wife look at each other, kind of amazed. Then, my wife says, to me, “I didn’t even know that until a few months ago.”

This teaches me a couple of things:

1. Children inherently get technology.

2. Children understand what technology, specifically mobile technology (in this case), is needed for. My daughter didn’t know it was a QR code or what necessarily happened with it, but she knew that you need your smartphone to do something with it.

3. There could easily be an expectation with younger generations that real-world stuff just won’t work without technology.

And that’s the point that I don’t think we can lose sight of. Are QR codes a useful enabling technology for marketers and consumers? Likely not. But this is a great case of the reverberation effect of technologies like this whereby the association of what they are and what they are used with has a great impact.

My daughter might not ever use a QR code, but she knows more and more that technology is needed to turn something physical (sticker) into something that makes it “work.”

Nike’s “Enabling Technology” Camp Victory

Nike shows us, if used the right way, all technology can be interactive. They’re at it again with some over-the-top OOH installations, what they call Camp Victory.

Sounds like some of the components of this installation will be put in their retail stores, which is only taking them one step closer to a completely technology-based interactive retail environment. It might take some time, but they are leading the way. And this is the future.

More than that, though, they’re just great at using (enabling) technology as a way to demonstrate to the public their own technology. And the thing about it is, they use whatever technology is best to show it off, regardless of how 1.0 or 2.0 it is.

This makes me believe that consumers might not be as intimidated by technology as I think, particularly as more and more people adopt smartphones. In a lot of ways, these types of installations are just bigger, badder smartphone applications. If people know how to work those, they’ll know how to work something(s) as enormous as this. And besides, that’s what I would call “2.0” enabling technology. You can see just as many examples of simpler technology, but just as interactive. And that’s what I think is brilliant.


Self Serve vs. Human Connection

self-serve food kiosk

I spend a lot of time in the Detroit airport nowadays and last week, I encountered something interesting and little bit frustrating – a self-serve only kiosk to order your food.

In theory, this is more interesting than frustrating, but when you have 3 people – employees of the establishment – standing right behind the kiosks and no one else in line to order the food, it tipped the scale to frustrating.

There I was, in a hurry, trying to catch my flight, and within the span of 30 seconds, I could have given my order to one of the employees. And within a couple of minutes, could have gotten my meal and jet-setted to my jet. Rather, I had to spend a good 1.5-2 minutes going through the kiosk to place my order. Wait another couple of minutes to get it and viola, an experience that should have taken less than 5 minutes, suddenly took at least 5 minutes.

I’m all one for self-serve, interactive ordering and ticketing and the like. But the balance with this sort of technology, out in the real world like this, is how much is takes away from or supplements customer service. That’s right, good, old fashioned customer service.

See, I want to take care of my business quickly and efficiently. Technology like this can help. But I also have a need for some sort of human interaction, particularly if it helps me take care of my business more quickly and efficiently. When we replace one with the other, we are shifting the balance of what technology can really do for us. We are deeming it just as good, just as quick, just as efficient – if not more – than what we as humans can provide. This is scary. It’s not a complete replacement. It should be a comprehensive supplement.

The voice, the smile, the service. That’s something that a Siri-like device can give us now and in the future. It will likely be even more real. But it’s not. And it never will be. And that’s the point. Human interaction, at our core, is a consistent point of connection and that will never go away. Even when we have more and more technology and kiosks and computers and Siris.

Right now, a complete substitute is just frustrating. In the future, well….I just hope that we can hold on to that human connection.

Teenagers’ Simple Thoughts About OOH Technology

Coke's touch screen fountain

Remember this machine? You’ve probably seen them more and more in restaurants.

Last night, I was out and here’s what I overheard from 2 girls, probably 14-16 years old.

Girl 1: “This is weird.”

Girl 2: “Ahhh. Awesome.”

Then, they both promptly figured it out, got their sodas, and continued on with 14-16 year-old conversation.

Technology like this is not disruptive for this group. It is expected. And it doesn’t phase them at all.

Evolution – Interactive Kiosks

First, it was banks and the ATM.

Then, the airport, with self check-ins.

Then came grocery stores with self check-outs.

Now, hotels and some restaurants.

Convenience is the theme.

Technology is enabling the world around us to address our needs. This will always be the movement and we will see more and more evolutions.

The day will come soon when our desires – those that do not make our lives better because of convenience – will be enhanced through technology and the real-world around us. In the big scheme of things, it will be rapid.

If People Can’t See It, How Powerful Can It Be?

Pizza box with QR code

What’s wrong with this picture?

What if I told you that this is the back of a pizza box?

As in, typically not the side of the box you look at when deciding on what pizza to buy.

Can you guess?

Well, before I get into it, I do think this brand is on to something with a couple of compelling pieces of content that might affect someone’s decision when buying frozen pizza:

1. “Consumer” reviews

2. Access to more information about their fresh ingredients (through the QR code)

To what extent either of these are actually drivers in the frozen pizza decision making process, I have no idea. But what I do know is that people are much more likely to make that decision based on what they see on the front of the box. Maybe the little bitty side, too, where all of the healthy (or not) ingredients are. But not the back.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you want someone to use an enabling technology like QR codes, then they have to be accessible. Especially in this instance, they must be in a convenient place where it’s not hard – much less not visible – to interact with. This is a simple rule.

But I think the biggest thing, beyond enabling technology or QR codes, is hiding what could be powerful word-of-mouth recommendations, which could definitely change purchase behavior. If no one reads them, how good/effective are they? (Nevermind that these aren’t particularly glowing recommendations.)

What this box teaches me is that despite how good your ideas are, if you’re not doing everything you can to make them visible and easy to interact with, then they will likely have 0 impact.


A Simple Word About “The Big Idea”

Experience - Big Idea

I was preparing a team for a pitch last week where we were to present “The Big Idea.” An interesting thing happened – no one started with technology. That is to say, no one started by saying, “what if we had this huge display” or “let’s create an immersive touch experience” or “augmented reality would be cool in this way.”

Everyone started with the actual real-world experience, what people would actually do and get out of the “thing.” See, unless you are talking to a technologist and/or talking about a media buy of any scale, the technology only confuses matters. It muddies the core of the idea, which is what you’re selling.

Yes, there are specific technologies that are buzzy, but when you’re tasked with coming up with “the big idea,” do they really stand up by themselves? 9 times out of 10, no, they don’t.

There is an understanding that we can find whatever technology enables us to realize our idea. Some might be better than others, but at the end of the day, they are all a means to an end, and the same that way.

The end is the experience, one that transcends technology. It can be made better through technology most of the time, but not always. We don’t need technology for any “big idea.” That’s not what sells.