The Indian Summer of kiosks is upon us! Why we're ready for the thaw of 2017/2018!
Photo courtesy of Ben Wheeler.
Wikipedia defines Indian Summer as "a period of unseasonably warm, dry weather that sometimes occurs in autumn in the Northern Hemisphere." The U.S. National Weather Service defines this as weather conditions that are sunny and clear with above normal temperatures, occurring late-September to mid-November, usually occurring after a killing frost.
Before the moment is lost, let's momentarily look back at the kiosk industry's killing frost of 2008, which ushered in the creativity and strength of the kiosk solution companies of 2017, and beyond!
Do any of you remember where you were the first week of October 2008? I remember it very well. Jeff Doerr at SwyftStore and I, at Flextronics International's kiosk team at the time, were walking back to the Edison Hotel in Times Square in New York City from KioskCom 2008, the now historical kiosk industry show, when we saw what was the beginning of the largest drop in the Dow since the Great Depression of the 1930s. I had always heard stories from my parents about the Great Depression and how Wall Street brokers of the 1930s committed suicide by jumping from the same tall buildings, right where we were walking 79 years later!
Not being stock brokers and living in our insulated society of the early 21st Century, our immediate panic was over our personal retirement funds and 401ks. I can honestly say that the real impact on us at that moment in time was almost lost, as we had no idea that we were witnessing the first hours of the financial crisis of 2008 that would prove to be the genesis of the kiosk industry slow down that would forever alter, even freeze the industry in ways that were very much unforeseen to us at that moment. A slowing in self-service that we are just now seeing a melting from even today.
Heading into that show, NCR headlined their show offering with a white paper entitled, "The Self-Service Revolution is Real!" The paper said, "Self-service is now an everyday part of our lives. We are living in a world in which consumers are increasingly using self-service technologies and demanding a wide range of self-service options. Consumers are choosing an increasing number and variety of channels to interact with business, such as the internet, mobile devices, point of service devices such as automated teller machines, self-checkout, point-of-sale and kiosks."
How the industry changed
The financial crisis changed the kiosk industry exponentially, as it allowed for the natural maturation of cell phone technology to a level that has moved most of the original kiosk solutions we were banking on over to hand-held devices and smartphones rather than to be performed by kiosks that would have been developed and deployed.
In 2008, kiosks were still an expensive proposition of several thousand dollars of capital outlay, while cell phones became accessible to anyone willing to submit to a credit check and a two-year contract. Obviously, kiosk solution providers have had almost 10 years now to reinvent themselves, if they were able to survive the slowing. I submit, that although painful at times, the reinvention of the kiosk industry since 2008 has made an even smarter, stronger field of solution providers who are more able to meet the kiosk customer of 2017's needs. And, thank goodness that the days of cyber cafe kiosks and hotel concierge kiosks have gone by the wayside.
Now that we have talked about the freeze, let's talk about the future! Here are my 13 favorite solutions of 2017. Solutions we never dreamed of in 2008 have come to the forefront.
• bicycle rental
• teller assist
• automated retail
• cannabis payments
• powerbank rental
• micro markets
• inventory control
• vendor check-In
The KioskGuy is always looking to engage in discussions on improving kiosk concepts.
Ben Wheeler, known as The KioskGuy, is a long time kiosk industry executive who assists companies with kiosk solutions.www