|| The Perspective
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
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So, you’ve decided your business or institution will be well served by adding a new digital signage network. Now what?
Where to turn and what to do can be confusing, especially if you’re responsible for your organization’s communications or IT department but don’t really know anything about a digital sign. While there are many good companies in business to help you achieve your goals, you can make the endeavor easier and far more successful if you avoid the problems many before you have encountered when rolling out and maintaining their digital signage networks.
Having worked with hundreds of customers on their digital signage needs, we at Keywest Technology have seen a lot of difficulties that easily could have been avoided — along with the associated delays and added expense — with a little knowledge up front. As the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed. So, keep these top 10 digital signage pitfalls in mind as you plan your new digital signage network to make the experience smooth and rewarding.
No. 1: Lack of a clear purpose
Someone in your organization has read that digital signage can make marketing messaging more effective. It can reach potential customers at the point of purchase, promote desired behavior, target different demographic groups associated with different times of the day, and do many other wonderful things.
But what exactly does your organization need to accomplish with digital signage? That’s the seminal question. Without clearly defining the purpose of a digital signage network, it is impossible to find success in any phase of its deployment or use.
Taking the time up front to define the expectations for the system and to write them out on paper for the approval of key management will provide direction and focus effort on attainable goals. Struggling to fulfill a nebulous purpose for the digital signage network will rack up unnecessary expense and leave everyone connected with the project frustrated.
No. 2: Taking on digital signage as an IT project
Digital signage network. The very words sound IT oriented. While there’s a lot of IT technology involved with digital signage, taking on a digital signage network as an IT project is dangerous.
While highly skilled, the typical IT manager does not have the background nor the experience needed to roll out a successful digital signage network. There’s a powerful temptation on the part of IT managers to look at digital signage playback as if it were a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation. It isn’t.
PowerPoint does an excellent job at making business presentations, but how many TV stations rely on PowerPoint to create and playback the programs, commercials, news and promotions you see nightly? Exactly zero. With respect to playing back video, graphics, text and animation, layering multiple visual elements and building and maintaining a playout schedule, a digital signage network is more like a TV station than a boardroom with a projector and a PowerPoint presentation. Keep that in mind if an IT manager volunteers to take on your organization’s digital signage project.
No. 3: Lack of content
Congratulations. You have a digital signage network. What are you going to display? Having a digital signage network without content is like having a newspaper without print. There’s just a whole lot of nothing and an overwhelming sense of emptiness.
Communicating in some form must be part of the reason behind the decision to add a digital signage network. However, there is no communication without content. Fortunately, many organizations have existing resources to draw upon that can be repurposed as digital signage content. Logos, commercials, promotional video, print advertising, plans and drawings all can be reused in whole or in part to communicate a message on a digital signage network.
Additionally, RSS Internet feeds are a tremendous resource for updating a digital signage network with fresh, “newsy” content, weather and sports scores that can give an audience a reason to take a second or third look.
Regardless of where it comes from, content is critical to the success of a digital signage network. Knowing where it will come from is as important as actually having the digital signage network in place.
No. 4: No one assigned to manage the project
While it’s not like designing the International Space Station, putting a digital signage network in place can be a complex undertaking. For that reason, it’s essential that any business or organization taking on a digital signage network assign someone to manage the project. Having an individual identified to own the project will minimize the impact of the unforeseen problems that inevitably creep into any complex undertaking.
Just as bad as having no one assigned to manage the project is its closely related cousin: management by committee. Offering up conflicting directions from multiple individuals will leave your system integrator bewildered and your project incomplete.
No. 5: No one to update content
While RSS feeds and subscriptions to news wire services are two sources of fresh information for a digital signage network, where will updated content conveying your company’s specific messages and current offerings come from?
A digital signage network that attracts attention has an insatiable appetite for fresh content. Thus, it’s essential that an organization taking on a digital signage network assign a qualified, competent person to the task of creating that content. Without someone in charge of the network’s content, the text, graphics and video being displayed soon will grow tired. Stale content will have the opposite of the desired result for a digital sign. It actually will drive viewers away and impart a sense of “been there, done that” that will be difficult to reverse.
No. 6: Taking the cheap way out
There’s nothing wrong with being budget conscious about a digital signage installation; however, selecting products, including displays, controllers and software, and services such as content creation solely on their price tags can result in a system that in the long run will cost an organization dearly.
Systems designed solely on the price of the component miss the point. Digital signage networks are about communicating information — perhaps a marketing message, maps and directions or instructions — to their intended audience. Spending money on an inexpensive system just because it’s cheap could cost a business or organization far more in lost opportunities than the money saved.
No. 7: Not knowing the locations of the signs
Knowing where your organization wants to locate the flat panel monitors in its digital signage network is important for a few reasons. First, locating the digital signage content players needed depends on where the sign or signs it’s controlling are located. The length of cable that's running between the player and the sign must be taken into account. Clearly defining the location of the signs will allow you to minimize construction/renovation expense and avoid paying for “do overs.”
Second, understanding exactly where the signs will be positioned will make it easier to understand what will be needed to mount the flat panels in use. Are wall studs available where a sign will be located? Or, will a freestanding structure be required? What’s the condition of the wall studs? Is electrical power available? What’s the status of ambient light sources? Will a window or skylight need to be shaded to reduce glare?
Third, not knowing where the signs need to be located may be a symptom of a bigger problem: namely, not having a clear idea about the purpose of the digital signage installation.
No. 8: Installers without general contractor capability
Installing digital signage can be messy. Drywall and plaster may need to be cut. New electrical plugs with isolated grounds may need to be installed. Beyond those obvious construction challenges, less apparent structural modifications may be required. Those can vary from relocating HVAC ducts to reenforcing walls.
For that reason, choosing a digital signage installer without the skill and experience to serve as a general contractor for the project can be a big mistake. Depending on the specific installation, it’s not unreasonable to assume carpenters, electricians, plumbers and even heating and cooling contractors might need to be involved to make necessary structural modifications. Having an installer who can serve as a general contractor to bring those diverse resources together and manage them properly can save lots of time and expense.
No. 9: Failing to allot adequate time to learn the system
Far too often, the people responsible for new digital signage installations at businesses or organizations are so excited about their systems that they can’t wait to show them off to upper management. After all, a significant sum of money went into making the digital signage network a reality. So showing it off as soon as possible only seems natural.
However, creating content for a digital signage system, scheduling it and making changes to playback along the way require some skill. It takes time to be properly trained to use a digital signage network. Failing to allocate sufficient time to learn how to use the system not only could be embarrassing in front of management, but disastrous to your communications efforts with the general public, if they’re your first audience.
No. 10: Failing to keep future expansion in mind at the time of initial design
Designing yourself into a box when first contemplating a digital signage network can be costly. Without casting an eye towards future needs, it’s possible that portions of the network might need to be replaced before they’ve been amortized to accommodate expansion.
Without exception, experience shows that businesses and organizations that fund the addition of digital signage networks express interest in expanding their systems after they’re installed.
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There you have it, the top 10 digital signage pitfalls. Take these lessons to heart as you proceed with your digital signage rollout, and you’re much more likely to have a successful experience. More importantly, your company or institution will avoid costly mistakes that will delay the installation and prevent your communications from having their desired effect.
Wednesday, 18 June 2008
When I first heard the word "multilayering," my mother’s famous layered bean dip came to mind. My mouth began to water. But as the conversation with our engineering department continued, I realized we were talking about a new technology, not a mid-afternoon snack.
Then what is multilayering? A good visual starting point is CNN. If you have ever watched a live CNN news broadcast, you have experienced multi-layering. Your television screen is divided into multiple zones displaying various content simultaneously.
A typical CNN screenshot has live news coverage, a scrolling headline along the bottom of the screen next to the current time and ad space or station identification. Screenshots change to accommodate the news. For instance, a financial segment may feature a scrolling stock ticker and the day's opening or closing numbers.
Multilayering in digital signage is very similar. With this new technology, your digital signage can be more than a single, simple image on a screen. You now have the capabilities of playing video and Web-browser content simultaneously.
Multilayering allows you to play HD video, advertisement banners and news information on the same screen (separate HTTP server required).
There are many benefits to multilayering in the context of digital signage. Being able to feature both Web and video simultaneously adds to the appeal of your campaign. With a variety of Web and video information playing, attracting and maintaining your target audience becomes easier. You reach a wider demographic with a variety of displayed content.
Another benefit of multi-layering is the ability to sell ad space. You can increase the profitability of your digital signage campaign by selling revenue generating advertising.
Katy Dailey is the communications specialist for CE labs, which is soon to debut its MP400A HD digital media player with a multilayering option.
Tuesday, 17 June 2008
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These days, it seems there are few establishments in which consumers can't pay with plastic.
Yet while credit and debit cards are increasingly popular, the volume and value of cash in circulation is on the rise as well. In today's retail environment, cash remains a popular form of payment and consumers expect to be able to use cash in transactions — particularly at kiosks.
This is not surprising, given the benefits of cash. Both kiosk users and deployers appreciate the ease and cost of cash transactions: low-cost for the deployer, free for the consumer and typically fast and hassle-free. Cash requires no infrastructure to function as a means of payment. In the process of automating, can one afford to ignore cash?
Users and deployers appreciate the offline nature of cash. Unlike credit or debit cards, electronic check or ACH transactions, cash transactions are settled immediately. Cash also is anonymous, exchangeable for cash without leaving a "link" between transactions and has a high rate of acceptability.
For the consumer or merchant concerned about security and safety, cash presents a low fraud risk. Easily and quickly verifiable, cash protects from the threat of loss due to counterfeit bills. Cash is maintained and regulated by the state and losses due to fraud are quite low.
The informal, or unregulated, economy is cash driven. By some estimates, informal trade is as much as 30 percent of our GDP. If cash as a means of exchange is taken away, access to these customers dries up. In a unautomated environment where cash in an option as a means of exchange, cash consumers are prospective customers. Removing cash as a payment option may mean losing these customers.
Despite the growing popularity of alternative modes of payment, cash remains key to retail and should be included in any payment automation plan. Consumers expect that this traditional payment option will be available, and a certain segment of the population — including those without banks — always will prefer cash. To reap the full benefit of automation, be sure that cash is in the mix.
Tuesday, 10 June 2008
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My paternal grandmother used to open a novel at the back page in order to read the ending of the story first. So I will give you the ending of this article upfront and then work my way back, unveiling in the process the secret of cash’s enduring popularity.
Here is the conclusion: There is virtually zero chance that cash will be withdrawn from society within the next generation. That is, in the next 25 years. And in all likelihood, there could easily be another hundred years of cash.
This conclusion is only remarkable because there is a widespread perception in financial services that cash’s days are numbered. People talk vaguely about the cashless society. Some folk seem to believe that plastic and digital forms of money are set to replace cash.
Upon analysis of the true nature of cash and on what is driving global demand for cash, however, this conventional wisdom turns out to be based on a myth. It is a fantasy which has been promoted largely by the card-issuing sector because it has a vested interest in the demise of cash.
But the cashless society is about as real a possibility as the paperless office. At this stage, it belongs in the realms of science fiction.
As head of the ATM Industry Association, which represents a broad spectrum of the ATM marketplace in about 50 countries, last year I sought out a futures analysis of cash. After all, cash remains the lifeblood of the approximately 1.7 million ATMs worldwide, since about 70 percent of all ATM transactions are cash withdrawals.
But I half expected to read evidence that the cash industry had about 10 to 20 years of life left in it. I soon found that the story of cash, like all good stories, has a twist to it, an amazing element of surprise.
During my months of research, I was astounded to discover that all the indicators showed that cash appears to have a bright and unlimited future. The conditions keeping it in production are much stronger than all the growth inhibitors and threats to its existence.
A cash tour
It is true that overall global market share for cash as a form of payment declined in the latter part of the 20th century — because of the advent of the credit card, POS terminals, Internet banking and new options such as prepaid cards and mobile banking. Yet the value and volume of cash continues to climb throughout the developed and developing worlds.
One source told me that the estimated annual demand for new banknotes is 1 billion. The Bank of England, European Central Bank and U.S. Federal Reserve System all report that U.K. sterling, the euro and U.S. dollar currency in circulation continue to increase.
The United Kingdom’s payments association, APACS, reports that 91 percent of payments in Britain worth less than £10 are made in cash, that’s compared to 5 percent made by debit and 2 percent by credit. In fact, Visa estimates that $1.3 trillion per year is spent on small ticket items.
According to De La Rue Currency, annually conducts a payments survey, says cash remains the preferred means of payment for 58 percent of the U.K., particularly where small-value payments are concerned. And cash accounts for two-thirds of all personal payments by volume in the U.K. In 2006 alone, £36.3 billion in cash was spent in supermarkets. Even for payments exceeding £50, Britons are more likely to use cash than credit. And nearly 2 million Britons are still paid in cash on a weekly basis, according to APACS.
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By the end of 2004, the value of notes in circulation in the U.K. exceeded £36 billion, a 45 percent increase from 1999.
One of the most pervasive myths about cash is that its usage is declining in advanced economies.
But that false view assumes that cash is for less-advanced, developing countries. Let us take Europe as an example. This continent has done more than any other region of the world to encourage the decline of cash.
The European Commission and European Payments Council are promoting non-cash payments through the creation of a cashless payment system called the Single Euro Payment Area. And in France, authorities have limited use of cash by law, e.g., saying that transactions exceeding €3,000 may not be conducted in cash and wages may not be paid in cash.
Yet Europeans continue to draw more and more cash every year.
The European Union has set a benchmark of between 200-230 non-cash transactions per inhabitant per year, while Spain, Italy and Poland see fewer than 100 non-cash transactions annually. Across 17 European countries, the average person makes a modest 49 card transactions per year. And he European Payments Council estimates there were about 360 billion cash transactions in 2003, compared to 60 billion non-cash transaction that same year.
Euros in circulation also are growing at a rapid pace. Europe’s volume of cash has grown about 20 percent per year since the euro’s introduction in 2002; by 2006, 1.3 billion euros were in the market. In the euro zone, volumes of low-denomination notes have been increasing at a 5 percent per annum — a rate higher than inflation.
Advanced countries like the United States, Japan and the U.K. maintain resilient cash usage. The Bank for International Settlements reported in September 1999 said notes and coins as a share of gross domestic product rose from 1990 to 1997 in Japan, Germany, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy and Australia.
And according to the U.S. Treasury, paper currency continues to climb in America, from $380 for every American in 1975, to $2,578 in banknotes per American by 2005. In addition, an extra $35 billion in coins is rolling around, clearly supporting a deluge of circulating cash in the world’s greatest economy. The value of U.S. dollars in circulation increased 400 percent between 1980 and 2005, from $160 billion to $700 billion.
Japan, the world’s second-largest economy, is cash-dominated. Only 36 non-cash transactions are made per person per year, compared to 288 per capita in the United States — and 119 those are conducted in the form of checks.
In so-called “transitional” countries, such as the former Soviet Union, cash dominates in volume and value.
And in Australia, cash remains the payment method of choice for small retail transactions and money transfers between individuals. In fact, the ratio of currency to GDP is increasing in Australia, up to 4 percent in 2004 from 3.5 percent in previous decades. Cash payments make up 40 percent of value for all retail payments in Australia; and in food and convenience stores, cash accounts for about 56 percent of all sales.
In South Africa, the Reserve Bank reports annual increases of 10 percent in the demand for cash. Two-thirds of all transactions are still conducted in cash, with R55 billion worth of banknotes in circulation and up to R3 billion in cash exchanging hands every day. About 91 percent of South Africans use cash to pay for groceries, while 4 percent use debit, 3 percent use credit and 1 percent use store-value cards.
The increased global demand for cash is good news for the ATM industry, because the cash machine remains cash’s primary distribution channel. In the U.K., 87 cash withdrawals at ATMs are made every second. In 2006, U.K. consumers withdrew £180 billion in cash from ATMs, with average withdrawal value being £65.
According to World Payments Report 2006, the aggregate number and value of ATM cash withdrawals grew at an annual rate of 5.9 percent and 7.1 percent, respectively, from 2000 to 2004.
Scan Coin, a global leader in cash processing, reports that cash handling is increasing by between 2 percent and 10 percent in most industrialized nations, and the percentages are much higher I less-advanced countries.
And cash-recycling technology is expected to improve future cash efficiencies.
England’s Retail Banking Research says cash-recycling at self-service terminals in Europe is expected to grow 30 percent in 2008. According to current estimates, that rate of growth will increase by 170 percent by 2010 and 215 percent by 2017.
Manufacturing the myth
So what’s driving the cashless society myth?
Futures thinking tends to overestimate technological change and to underestimate the role people, culture and society. The simple truth is that most visionaries of the cashless society don’t understand the history of cash.
The use of coin stretches back to Lydia in the 7th century B.C. And paper-currency’s origin can be traced to China’s Tang Dynasty circa 618 A.D.
How many other technologies can claim to have survived that kind of span?
It’s the simplicity of cash that has resulted in its longevity. Cash produces instant results virtually anywhere on earth. That is an immense strength.
Cash is not a technology that easily reaches exhaustion because of resource depletion. And cash has a strong resistance to substitution.
In 1979, Michael E. Porter of Harvard Business School developed a theory of five forces that shape the competitive environment for businesses and products. One force that threatened businesses was product substitution, which would make it more likely for customers to switch to product alternatives, especially when prices increase.
Porter outlined components of product substitution, including a buyer’s propensity to substitute, the price of substitutes, switching costs, and the perceived level of product differentiation. Given that cash has proved to be an inter-epochal technology, how has it fared against the threat of substitution?
The check was first product designed to substitute cash, and it was extensively used for the first time in Holland in the early 1500s. But in five centuries, the paper check has failed to replace cash.
And then there is the credit card, which came out of a New York restaurant in the 1950s. The credit card has been a remarkable piece of technology, but it may be comparatively short-lived, because of its inherent risk. And the economic downswing isn’t expected to help credit’s cause. In fact, in China, the world’s future superpower, credit is not regarded as real money — real money in Chinese culture is cash in the bank.
The credit card, too, then, like the cheque, has failed to topple cash.
Whether we talk about mobile payments, Internet payments or gift cards, the more each one is likely to absorb some market share of some payment technology. The payments landscape is multichannel, and somewhat cannibalistic. But no one payment device, whether an electronic funds transfer, a mobile phone or a prepaid card, that can substitute for cash.
- Fee-free for consumers
- Carries certainty of acceptance as legal tender
- Free of credit risk
- A public asset regulated by the central bank
- Anonymous and cannot be tracked
- Easy to access and use
- Interchangeable with other cash
Cash also is fast.
Source: 2006 Study by Central Banks of Belgium and the Netherlands
Such speed is important in retailing. McDonald’s has reported that shaving six seconds off transaction times brings about a 1 percent increase in sales. Global remittances also are driving the use of cash.
The World Bank estimates that the total amount of remittances sent home in 2005 to developing countries by workers abroad reached $173 billion. That estimate is now estimated to be closer to $310 billion.
The good thing about remittances is that they help bridge the divide between the wealthy and poor. Levels of poverty have declined in countries that receive remittances on a large scale. Recipients use the money they’re sent to improve their children’s education and to provide living accommodation.
Remittances are often received in cash, sometimes via ATMs.
Tourism also is driving the use of cash. In 2003, tourism represented 6 percent of the world’s export of goods and services. And tourists prefer to use local currency when they travel abroad.
An estimated 70 percent of Chinese tourists prefer cash on their travels.
And if remittance and tourism aren’t convincing enough, the future existence of cash is virtually guaranteed by the growing role of the informal sector — defined as economic trade not registered for taxation.
The informal sector, which excludes organized crime, is growing in developed, developing and transitional countries. In the EU, 48 million workers are part of the informal sector. In India, informal-sector trade provides more than 90 percent of employment with some 360 million workers. In South Africa, 25 percent of the labour force works in the informal economy, responsible for 10 percent of all retail sales.
And in Russia, the informal sector makes up 14 percent of the country’s total employment. This table shows the significant role of informal trade in the global economy.
Figure: Average size of Informal Economy around the world measured as a percentage of GDP
The global average size of informal trade is about 30 percent of GDP.
Which government is seriously going to try to eradicate that level of trade from within its boundaries and thus risk pushing up its unemployment rate and poverty levels?
Mike Lee is the chief executive officer of ATMIA.
Thursday, 05 June 2008
Today’s customers expect more from their shopping, dining and travel experiences. Interrupting customers with unwanted or uninspired messaging can wreck a brand and the experience in the process. Yet, too many companies view digital signage as a standalone solution to simply deliver advertising. While study after study has shown that digital signage drives sales and increases awareness, to stand out and deliver more, companies need to move beyond the simple advertising model to a model that is focused on amplifying the overall customer experience.
When was the last time you heard a customer walk into a venue and say, "Wow, I wish I could see MORE advertising." Chances are most customers are not salivating at the chance to see a bevy of promotions continuously paraded in front of them. Why? Because when customers enter a venue, the first question they implicitly ask themselves is "What’s in it for me?" Advertising alone rarely answers that question positively. Because of this, companies need to look to satisfy both customer and business objectives. Luckily, today’s technologies can help companies achieve both results by creating cost effective experiences that empower, engage and excite customers.
From digital signage to kiosks to smart shelves and audio solutions, many technologies can be used to create compelling and immersive customer experiences. Digital signage should not be looked at as a silo solution, but as one of many technologies that can be integrated and leveraged to deliver value to the customer and the business with each interaction. These interactions have the power to enhance the brand, differentiate offerings and drive loyalty. The key is amplifying customer experience to keep customers coming back for more.
The Four Experience Amplifiers
The more companies can make an experience personal and targeted, the more likely a customer will perceive value in the interaction. Satisfied customers spread the word and share the experience with others. The more a customer experience creates a "wow", the more likely the experience will be talked about or shared. In today’s social networked, mobile con-nected marketplace, nothing is more effective than having satisfied customers market for you. By creating experiences that are "talk-worthy" you can amplify the results.
To deliver results that meet both customer and business objectives, there are four key experience amplifiers that companies should look to implement:
- The Experience must be Engaging
First and foremost, the experience needs to grab customer attention and resonate with the expectations for the environment and brand. It has to immerse customers with relevant information and provide a reason for them to interact with the technology. Engaging experiences excite customers. Excited customers come back again and again.
- The Experience must be Empowering
Another way to amplify the customer experience is to empower the customer to take action. Whether it's an interactive screen or a smart shelf that triggers media based on what product a customer picks up, giving the customer the power to drive the transaction makes the experience more dynamic and personal.
- The Experience must be Intelligent
To amplify the experience more, companies can leverage intelligent technology to deliver intelligent experiences for the customer. The great thing about today’s technologies is that virtually everything can be measured, monitored and modified as needed to match the desires and goals of customers, while delivering quantifiable business results. Customers benefit by having relevant data and information presented as part of their interaction with the company, products and brand. Companies benefit by being able to take proactive action based on changing customer demand or the competitive environment.
- The Experience must be Integrated
The ultimate in customer experience amplification is when multiple technology touchpoints become part of a seamless, integrated experience. Regardless of where or when a customer interacts with the company, he or she is presented with experiences that match each desire and goal, while the systems driving these interactions share common data, media and intelligence. The result is unique touchpoints throughout an environment that anticipate and build upon each other to deliver value to all.
Innovative companies are learning that experience-based technologies are vital to creating the next generation of long-term profitable customer relationships. Moving from standalone, ad-based models to integrated, experience-based models will hold the key to the future of digital signage and the companies deploying these solutions.
Brian Ardinger is the senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Nanonation, a software company creating customer experience technologies from kiosks to digital signage.
Tuesday, 03 June 2008
Recently we traveled to pitch a kiosk concept to a very large prospect and the meetings went well. We brought along an IBM AnyPlace kiosk to demonstrate some of our recent custom kiosk applications to the client, which we do often. It gives them an idea of the type of applications they could build, shows them the level of design quality we can perform and allows them to touch and feel some actual hardware. The IBM kiosk is retail hardened and can take a lot of abuse and constant interaction.
But then we put it up against Delta airlines and the TSA.
After packing it in a foam-lined hardshell travel case (TSA locked), we checked the kiosk with our other baggage for our return flight home. All seemed well until we opened the case a week later to prep the kiosk for our next pitch.
The kiosk screen was broken!
Imagine the shock ... and anger. You always wonder how roughly they treat your luggage, and now we have a gauge of the high level of abuse. This glass is not cheap or fragile. It's touch stuff with lots of coatings, etc. (You can review IBM's specs at: http://www.03.ibm.com/products/retail/products/anyplace/index.html.)
As you can see from the picture, it must have taken a hard and heavy blow from a sharp object or corner of another package. But through our hardshell case? That takes some effort. And now that it is a week or more past our return flight, I don't know if we can issue any kind of complaint or claim. I doubt they will cover this, so I am simply down one unit and out a lot of money. My next step is to see what IBM will charge to repair the unit for me. They have great warranty service, but this should not be covered, obviously.
Shipping electronics is always risky business, and passenger airlines are not in the habit of being gentle with the luggage in their care. I'm sure this would be a bit less likely with a carrier such as UPS/FedEx who handle a lot of fragile items daily. An airline is expecting clothing and golf clubs most of the time. We ship a lot of kiosks via common carrier and rarely have any problems. But we are going to have to re-evaluate how we travel with the kiosks on passenger airlines. We are currently evaluating other types of hard shell cases that we can check with the airlines, and will likely come up with a good solution that we will resell to other customers.
How about you, have you had similar experiences? Do you have mobile kiosks and need to protect them? How do you travel with them? Respond to my blog post and share your thoughts and experiences.
Tim Burke is on the owner of Electronic Art. His blog can be viewed here.