|| The Perspective
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Tim Burke is CEO and partner at Electronic Art, a Cincinnati-based interactive agency. Tim is chair of the DSA Marketing Committee and serves on the DSA Advisory Board.
I have the good fortune to live in Cincinnati, which is the headquarters of Proctor & Gamble (the world’s largest marketer) and nine other Fortune 500 companies. We have a large number of major local agencies that serve this big market, as well as the surrounding region, which includes Columbus and Dayton, Ohio; Indianapolis; and Lexington and Louisville, Ky. And very soon, the local chapters of the Ad Club and the American Marketers Association will host their third-annual Digital Non-Conference, Sept. 23-24.
The Non-Conference is untraditional because it takes a more “artsy” approach than a normal conference. The grand ballroom is full of leather sofas, coffee tables and high-top bar tables and features a creative lighting and set design that makes you feel like you are in a huge coffee shop-slash-game show setup. During the day, breakout sessions are located off-site at local bars, restaurants, museums and theaters. You know it’s not your typical event when you can sit in a bar with a Guinness in your hand and learn about digital signage from industry experts. The event also coincides with the MidPoint Music Festival, which showcases about 200 indie bands from around the world. Together, they bring a unique weekend of fun to my hometown and provide a creative way for digital marketers to interact and learn.
I’ve been involved with the event since its first year. Last year, we had two sessions on digital signage: One on the reasons why you should use digital signage provided by a regional integrator, and a panel discussion on digital signage that the Digital Signage Association and I helped create. Our panel was held at a western-themed bar and consisted of myself, John Czyrka of Samsung, analyst Bill Collins of Decision Point Media, Mike Collette of Healthy Advice Networks and Louie Hollmeyer of Stratacache.
The well-rounded panel fielded questions from the audience and from me on digital signage 101, educating local agencies, brand managers and technology strategists on how they can utilize signage for their brands and clients. The panelists spoke about LCD and LED technology, the importance of commercial-grade hardware, industry research, how people use signage, running a network, and tools for managing content. The session was well-received, and we’re planning something similar for this year’s conference.
Other topics for breakout sessions include:
• Digital Design & Creative
• Digital Market Research
• Mobile Marketing and Trends
• Social Media Marketing
• Search Engine Marketing
• Digital Innovation
• Emerging Digital Trends
While the keynote speakers have not been finalized yet, I’ve heard they are trying to secure Tim Westergen, founder of Pandora; Greg Coleman of the Huffington Post; Drew Buckley, COO of Electus; America Ferrera, an actress in an upcoming MTV interactive program; and Jerry Kathman, president of LPK, the world’s largest independent design agency. If you know of another good speaking candidate, please contact the conference by July 18. It should be a very insightful group.
If you would like to attend the event, join the biggest, brightest and best names in digital marketing for the third-annual non-conference. Jump in, engage and participate as an attendee, presenter or sponsor. If your company is interested in sponsoring the event, you can connect with your audience to share your message, service and products with leading digital marketers, communicators and potential clients. Sponsorship sign-ups are available on the Web site. And tell them the DSA sent you!
Tuesday, 06 July 2010
Innovative technology typically reduces labor requirements, but self-service technology appears to be creating new jobs and increasing productivity.
Recent reports and studies indicate the self-service industry not only is creating a multitude of highly skilled and higher paying jobs, but that it also is fueling the United States economy through increased productivity and efficiency.
"The concern about kiosks ‘putting people out of jobs’ is not new,” said Daniel Castro, a senior analyst with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, or ITIF. “Historically, whenever labor-saving devices have been introduced, people worry about the impact it will have on them, but virtually all economic studies find that technologies like kiosks that boost economic productivity do not lead to higher levels of unemployment in the medium and long term."
The ITIF is a nonpartisan research group that helps formulate and promote public policies to advance innovation, productivity and digital economy issues. On June 22, ITIF president Robert D. Atkinson testified before the U.S. Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Competitiveness, Innovation and Export Promotion. Atkinson told senators that expanding the role of innovation such as self-service technology is pivotal to creating better jobs, igniting the economy and ensuring American prosperity. (To read Atkinson’s full statement to the committee, click here.) "Properly conceived, innovation is not just about creating more jobs for engineers and managers in high-technology industries," Atkinson told senators. "It is also about providing higher wage jobs for workers in manufacturing and low-tech services."
Due to the abundance of low-wage workforces in nations other than the U.S., many labor-intensive jobs have shifted overseas, making it even more important for innovative industries such as self-service to expand, Atkinson said. He encouraged Congress to implement policies that support expansion of innovative technology and to train workers for new types of jobs.
In recent years, many labor unions and other groups have voiced concern about job loss spurred by automation. For instance, author Marshall Brian, a former computer science professor who founded HowThingsWork.com, contends self-service technology has eliminated millions of jobs in the past decade.
"Automated retail systems like ATMs, kiosks and self-service checkout lines marked the beginning of the robotic revolution," Brian wrote in a recent article. "Over the course of 15 years starting in 2001, these systems proliferated and evolved until nearly every retail transaction could be handled in an automated way. Five million jobs in the retail sector were lost as a result of these systems.
ITIF also acknowledges that an increasingly self-service-oriented society will likely reduce employment opportunities for low-wage workers such as grocery store cashiers and movie rental clerks.
"With innovation, you generally see a shift in the economy from lower value, lower wage jobs to higher value, higher wage jobs," Castro said. "For example, if consumers save money by renting DVDs for $1 per night at a Blockbuster EXPRESS rather than at a brick-and-mortar rental store, they end up spending that money on other goods and services. So while you may not have as many movie rental clerks, you might have more people employed at restaurants or gyms. Plus, you have entirely new industries employing workers to create, install, maintain and repair kiosks and other self-service technology."
Finding an accurate estimate of employees in the self-service industry is challenging, Castro says, but the economic benefits are evident. Earlier this year, ITIF released a report exploring how advancements in technology such as touchscreen displays and card readers are becoming a positive driving force for the U.S. economy.
"Technological changes often mean job displacement," the report concluded. "The answer is not to impede these advances but to help workers adapt and learn the skills a changing economy demands."
Others agree that the self-service industry’s positive economic impact is expanding.
"While certain self-service applications do, in fact, automate a number of tasks, this does not necessarily equate to cutting jobs, but cutting costs related to delivering service," said Cheryl Madeson, marketing manager for KIOSK Information Systems, which has designed, manufactured and deployed more than 100,000 kiosks. "Often, when deployers supplement with automation of routine tasks, employees are still utilized to provide assistance on more complex tasks. Many deployments are leveraged to do more with the same resources, control costs and increase profitability."
KIOSK Information Systems and other self-service organizations are also contributing directly to workforce growth and development by hiring more employees.
"2010 has been an excellent year for KIOSK in terms of high-quality new job growth," Madeson said. "We’ve staffed up by 20 percent across multiple disciplines, including manufacturing, engineering, program management, sales, customer services and supply-line management. Faster deployment timelines from customers are becoming a distinct trend, and KIOSK has aligned the size of our professional teams to support this demand."
Missy Baxter is a freelance reporter for SelfServiceWorld.com.