I spend a lot of time in the Detroit airport nowadays and recently 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 three 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 off to my plane. 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 violà, an experience that should have taken less than five minutes, suddenly took at least five minutes.
I’m all one for self-service, 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.
Brought to us by B. Joseph Pine, author of The Experience Economy & other books – now Infinite Possibility...Note – this dude is a heavy hitter and brought to life a great way of thinking about this wide open space that technology and our world has given to us. This is a post that captures many of his thoughts from his keynote.
Progression of Economic Value – goods and services no longer enough, what consumers are looking for are experiences.
Commodities > Goods > Services > Experiences
What we need now is innovation in experiences.
There is a new digital frontier that changes things today; we need a tool to help us explore the digital frontier.
The known universe – time, space, matter – in Future Perfect (Stan Davis), he says he wants to give new meaning to time, space and matter. This will require profound transformations in the way we think about these three.
When you have matter, you have no-matter. Matter is material things, no-matter is about bits.
If there’s no-matter, then there’s no-space and no-time. No-space is virtual places. No-time is autonomous events. This now is a model about what is possible in today’s digital space. This is what he calls the Multiverse.
This is not a plea to abandon reality. But there is a migration going on. More and more, people are spending their time in virtual worlds through screens.
We can access virtuality through screens of any sorts. Virtuality is an experience that you have through any screen.
You can have virtuality without digital technology. Think about books. Just from words on paper, you can create a world in your mind where that is taking place.
Enchantment – close to Engagement
Reality and Virtuality
Augmented Reality – this is the quintessential reality/virtuality example. It augments what you’re experiencing in the real world by giving you information in a virtual environment, typically on your mobile phone. Using digital technology to enhance the real-world.
Showed a lot of examples of AR – Word Lens – real-time translation of your own language that you see, take a picture of. Pop notes – virtual post-it notes.
Think of AR as a virtual prosthetic.
Augmented Virtuality – interact with the virtual world from the real-world. Augmenting that virtual world. Some material substance that is controlling that environment.
Look into this company – Personal Space Technologies.
He also showed an example of Hallmark cards that, to me, seem like Augmented Reality (not Virtuality??) He addressed this. So, what’s the difference? Primary experience is either in the real world (reality) or the digital world (virtuality). Interesting. I like it.
Alternate Reality – alternate view of what’s going on in the real-world. Use the world as your playground (ARG’s).
Alternate reality is no time.
World Without Oil – HBR article by the author. We can use Alternate Reality as the new Business Reality.
Physical Virtuality – design experience that becomes real. For example, take a digital picture of a physical space. Then, it turns into a 3D space. Now, use a tool to design how it should look. Then, you can make the furniture. Make it real based on the virtual experience that you have online. Your ideas can become real.
Shapeways. Autodesk. Techshop.
Warped Reality – taking you into the past. Reenactments like the Civil War Adventure Camp. But what about the future? Not reenactment, but preenactment.
Starizon (company) – you determine what experience you want to have happen in the future and then they create it.
Flow – look at this book. “Freedom from the tyranny of time.”
Mirrored Virtuality – real-world experience & time tied into virtual world & time. Anything you can track is an example of this. Look at MLB.com and you can see what’s going on in the game, real-time via your computer. Tweetdeck – no real world component, but it’s mirroring what’s going on real-time in the Twitterverse.
This is the Multiverse.
Some tips as you think about each one of these components in the Multiverse.
Reality – shift marketing from advertising to marketing experiences.
Augmented Reality – use smartphones to bring messages to customers when and where they most need it. Stop bothering them when they don’t need it.
Alternate Reality – use the real-world as your playground for engagement.
Warped Reality – get customers into the flow. Engage them so much that all time goes away. Or help them envision their future.
Virtual Reailty – shift your marketing dollars from advertisng to virtual marketing experiences.
Augmented Virtuality – use customers' own bodies to control what they experience from you.
Physical Virtuality – mass customize your offerings – not just target your messages – to help your customers realize their dreams.
Mirrored Virtuality – help your customers track what’s important to them in your offering category. And then give them a dashboard.
The best offerings are those that do not live within one of these categories.
What an exciting couple of weeks it has been for the digital signage industry. I don’t even know if I’m referring to the industry correctly anymore, given one of the key figureheads recently proposed renaming the term “digital signage” completely. Truth be told, I’ve never been clear on what to call this industry and even whether or not to call it an industry, much less what the industry is defined around. But in the end, I come back to the same thing – it’s the digital signage industry. Because it’s centered around digital signs – er, signs that are digital – and the industry is larger than a group and businesses are made around the components to run digital signs. So, it makes sense and it’s easy. I say “digital signage” (with or without industry) and everyone I talk to understands what it is, at least on a basic level. Semantics.
The true waves – those that could have a real impact on changing the face of digital signage, far beyond words – are being made by the people running business in this industry. Three major players, rVue, RiseVision, and Screenreach, have all recently hired individuals who live and breathe engagement. Not digital signage. Engagement. These are individuals who will benefit the industry because they have specific digital signage experience, too, but they are not about the sign. They’re about the engagement. That is an important distinction, especially for an industry that ironically seems to be behind the technology-enabling-engagement curve. These individuals are awesome for the industry.
I think it’s interesting and admirable that each one of these companies created positions for these individuals. These were not positions that have existed before. They were made for these individuals. Before I get into that, let me just tell you a little bit about these individuals. I have the pleasure of personally knowing each of them and I’m better for it.
First up is Jennifer Bolt, who, for years, has been the head honcho for the media department at TracyLocke. She has immense media planning and buying experience and knows more about the media side of digital signage than anyone I’ve met from an agency. She just joined rVue as Chief Strategy Officer. She knows, firsthand, the challenges that agencies face when guiding major brands through allocating and buying digital out-of-home (DOOH) (a la digital signage). She knows how to ask the right questions of brands to understand where advertising dollars can be pulled from. It is complicated – from a brand perspective and agency perspective – and as a result, the digital signage industry suffers. Jennifer is a wonderful addition to the industry because she knows how to talk to agencies and exactly where to go within them to be a guide and help provide clarity all around.
Next is Paul Flanigan, who recently joined RiseVision as VP, Marketing & Business Development. Paul is one of my first and best friends in the industry. He comes with a wealth of experience in branding, marketing, and communications and is just an overall bright and seasoned guy. He worked with the guys at The Preset Group and before that he ran Best Buy’s in-store network. Paul is an engagement guy. He gets the power of digital signs and how if they don’t create engagement, they’re not realizing their full potential. Now, by working with a digital signage software provider, he will not only be able to shape the actual product, but he’ll also be able to speak to prospects about the true potential of reaching and connecting people when they’re outside of their homes.
Which leads me to my boy, David Weinfeld, who, too, was with The Preset Group before going on to Obscura Digital and just last week was named Chief Strategy Officer of Screenreach. The first thing you see when looking at the Screenreach website is, “Turn any screen into a 2-way interactive experience.” This is a perfect fit for Dave – a place where social, mobile and digital signage collides. He gets it completely and even more, eats it up completely, and Screenreach and the industry will benefit greatly from David having such a visible role within it. He should be able to directly infuse social and mobile connections into what’s expected from digital signage immediately.
All three of these individuals should have an indelible impact on the industry. I find myself energized knowing as much. But this could not have happened if the leaders of the respected companies – Jason Kates, Byron Darlison, and Paul Rawlings – did not recognize the need, potential, and competitive advantage that these individuals could fill/enable. These leaders had the wherewithal and courage to create positions for other leaders.
On one hand, I love QR codes because I think they’re a great enabling technology, a technology that bridges the offline world with the online. This is essential in driving any level of engagement when connecting with consumers outside of their homes. They’re efficient, convenient and potentially rewarding. That is, they’re easy to use and they can unlock rich content.
This is the hate side of the equation. Bad QR code executions are commonplace in the real world. Brands don’t know where to put them, should they go on TV or other digital screens or just be confined to print materials? Brands don’t know what content to put behind them, should they just unlock a website or an entry form or some sort of rich, multimedia content? But most of all, brands don’t seem to understand consumers’ awareness and comfort level with them, should they include instructions or an alternate way to access the information or just leave it to consumers to figure out how to use them? These are all general statements, I know. Yes, I have seen my fair share of quality code-based initiatives over the past year and a half, but they pale in comparison to the poor executions.
I believe now we’re seeing something that normally happens with any sort of technology that doesn’t wash out to the ocean of nothingness. On the consumer side, there is awareness with what the technology is. On the brand side, there is a drive to understand how best to use the technology to impact behavior. This adoption/impact wave is a long one. Right now, we’re just seeing brands actually understand how to best use social media to build relationships and impact consumer behavior. And social media (er, Web 2.0) was only introduced 5-6 years ago. That’s not to say QR codes will take 5-6 years to figure out, but adoption of technologies and new ways to utilize them do not happen overnight. They also require a fair amount of deliberate thought. They’ll hardly work if they’re just thrown out into the world for everyone to figure out.
This is what I’ve seen more often than not with QR codes.
So, it was refreshing to actually see a brand utilize traditional media channels in their marketing mix to raise awareness of their QR code campaign. A couple of weeks ago, I saw this Macy’s commercial on TV.
I did a double take. I had to rewind it to make sure I was seeing this right. A brand devoting a national TV spot to their QR code campaign? Brilliant.
I think the true brilliance is in the spot itself. It doesn’t just highlight the technology, it explains it. It explains what it is, where to look for it, how to use it, and most of all, what consumers can expect to get out of it. It also doesn’t limit this content to QR-code-only access. Have mobile phone? Can text? Then, not to worry, you can still experience this same content.
Now, when consumers go anywhere near Macy’s and see one of these pixilated stars, they at least have a better chance knowing what it is and what they can get out of it – two critical pieces needed to drive adoption and result in success.
And they’re not just focused on TV. They’re using many channels in their ecosystem to introduce, educate and drive engagement with this star. Like on their Facebook page:
On their windows:
And of course, in their store:
These methods, along with print ads and lanyards worn by Macy’s staff, explain how the program works, what the codes are and how deliberate they want to be with this campaign.
Who knows if it will work? And more, who knows if QR codes, as a technology, will endure time and actually become adopted by the general consumer. In 5-6 years, we’ll know, right?
But this much is certain, and has endured over time – whoever reaches consumers at the right time with the right content will win.
The problem is we’re living and consuming media in an evolving world. Consumers are on-the-go, out-and-about more than ever and technology is not the barrier it once was. It seems as though everyone is connected and the rules have changed. The right time to reach consumers is different for everyone and it’s typically when they’re not in the confines of their homes.
Traditional broadcast channels such as television are still great awareness channels, regardless of what you say about DVR. Nontraditional, emerging channels like Out-of-Home (OOH) and mobile are more and more becoming great engagement channels. Everything needs to work together. And Macy’s, much to their credit, has recognized this and is actually doing something about it.
I know the jury is still out on QR codes so I’d be interested to know if you think even a full-out marketing blitz like this will move the needle, in terms of QR code adoption and engagement? What do you think?
These guys are at the forefront of using emerging technology to connect with consumers.
First, MINI created real-life "L.A. Story-inspired" talking billboards through the use of RFID.
Then, it created a real-life/virtual world game of chase through the use of augmented reality.
Now, it's taking a simple approach, yet just as unique as its other projects, with QR codes. Only to drive a different "Augmented Reality" experience.
How would you launch the all new, bigger MINI Countryman? How about a big QR code? Like bigger than anything in the ad.
Here’s the thing about MINI, from my perspective, nothing is a mistake. Or an afterthought. It’s all purposeful. Here, they didn’t just oh-by-the-way-stick-a-qr-code-in-the-bottom-corner-of-the-ad. They made it the ad.
And it works.
And for those who don’t know what this is, they give directions. And for those who don’t want to scan the code, they give another way to get to the information. And for anyone else – those who wouldn’t even want to take part in the complete experience – this campaign, this app, and ultimately this brand is probably not for you.
These guys are smart. They’ve gotten some insight that their target audience has a high propensity to engage through various mobile technologies – even more, that their target is not constrained by location, they like to be on the go, and are early adopters.
Can you imagine this out of the MINI owner? I can.
And to their credit, MINI goes full tilt.
I think there are many ways to connect with consumers when they’re out and about, not in front of their computers. More and more, this is a mobile world, and I’m not talking about a mobile-phone world (although we are) – mobility is a way of life. So, being able to connect with consumers while they’re on the go, in various ways – especially through enabling technologies like this – will become more and more critical for brands to figure out.
MINI’s making it easy for everyone else.
This is interactive out-of-home. Where experience masterpieces happen.
“Participating in the Digital Screenmedia Association enables us to keep a pulse on the industry. It gives us access to a wealth of experts to share ideas and enables us to build more effective solutions for our clients.”
Entrepreneur in Residence NUtech Ventures, Inc.