Four years ago, I was offered the opportunity to be the executive director of the Self-Service & Kiosk Association. At the time, I didn't know a lot about kiosks, but I did know quite a bit about managing associations.
While I didn't know a lot about self-service technology, I had certainly used it as a customer. Light bulbs went off in my head as I started to think about all the applications I had used: photo kiosks, self-checkout, airline self-check in, purchasing movie theater tickets and of course ATMs and pay at the pump.
As I told friends and family about the industry in which I'd be working, I would get an enthusiastic response - "that's cool!" and "you're right, it's everywhere." Not only did I think the technology was cool, but I really thought (and still do) that self-service makes people's lives easier.
During my first week on the job, NetWorld Alliance CEO and SSKA Chairman Dick Good gave me an assignment: take a week a month over the next year and visit as many members as I could. Combined with attending trade shows, it was a great education.
I visited companies in Illinois, Connecticut/Rhode Island, England, Texas, Colorado, New York State, Wisconsin/Minnesota, Los Angeles and North Carolina. All told, I visited with 74 companies in one year. I learned about a lot of neat technology and met some really interesting people. If you click on the places I linked, you can read the reports I wrote from those road trips (note: Bill Yackey wrote the North Carolina piece).
It's now four years later and I think we've come a long way as an industry. Kiosks and other self-service technology have become woven into the fabric of our daily lives. Some applications have failed (electronic voting - though I'm still a fan) and some have wildly succeeded (DVD-rental kiosks).
And I'm still in love with it all.