All posts in Technology

In the early 2000’s, along with other myriad of hats worn, I was an Adobe and Macromedia certified contract trainer. I remember teaching Advanced Flash Technologies and wowed the class by showing how you could embed video into the Flash presentation.   I suggested, at a time when the default Internet speed was a struggling 56K, that within 10 years we would be streaming movies online.  Incredulous looks and groans of protest filled the room.

It was then, I remember perusing the aisles of the local video store to find a new release movie on DVD.  Only a small step back, and they were only available on VHS tapes.  Technology is ever changing, as is the face of engagement. Just think, YouTube has only been around since 2005, and the iPhone debuted in 2007 (the same year Netflix started streaming services.)

Now in the course of the typical weeknight, a full third of all Internet traffic into North American homes is consumed on Netflix. With 36 million subscribers watching over 4 billion hours of video per quarter on a platform of over 1,000 devices – the math gets a little daunting.  CEO Reed Hastings said, “We think of the technology as a vehicle for creating a better, more modern experience for the content we have.”

In the self-service marketplace, we ride the cusp of innovations in technology, providing solutions that were unheard of just a decade before. Where will the next innovation come from?  Where will it drive the market? As we gear up in conceptualizing next year’s kiosk or software solutions – we look at the emerging critical mass wave of consumer engagement, leverage existing technology and then design solutions that can effectively engage the market.

I have to agree with Hastings that technology is a vehicle.  You have to leverage it to find ways to improve delivery and enhance the user experience.  At Meridian we find ourselves daily faced with the tools of industry, the platform of technology and a blank slate of opportunity.  I have a new prediction by the way, in 5 years… I guess I will save that one for the next sales & marketing meeting.

A kiosk is a box.

Sure, it has hardware, sophisticated electronics, a user interface, graphics, etc…. but ultimately it is still a box.
It starts as a box.  A box of possibility. An open, empty container waiting for solutions to fill it.  It is a need fulfillment device.  A way to engage the intended audience, shape their interaction with the brand/product being promoted and in the end – fulfill a need.  Before you buy the box, you need to see it as it is.  A box of possibility not hampered by constraints or improbabilities, and most especially “we have not ever done that before.”  It needs to be a container of what-ifs ready to be explored.  It needs to reach beyond the basics of gadgetry and become a possibility waiting to be discovered.
  • What do you want / need your box to do? (FUNCTION)
  • How do you want people to engage your box? (INTERACTIVITY)
  • What do you want to put inside your box? (PERFORMANCE)
  • How do you want your box to look? (VISUALIZATION)
  • Where do you want your box to be? (PRESENCE)
Again, a kiosk is a box. What do you want inside?

Have you ever heard of the Newtonian Cradle? It is a simple contraption that has a series of steel balls of identical size and weight, suspended in tandem one against another. If you pull back one ball and let it go, it will swing forward and impact the group. From the other side a single ball will be propelled out, return and repeat the back-in-forth action of almost perpetual tap-tap-tapping. This is a simple illustration of Newton’s Law that states, “For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction.” To see this really played out, it gets quite interesting if your cradle has 5 balls, and you pull back 4 of the balls and let them swing…. Any guesses as to what happens? I will tell you in a minute.
What is the point? I remember the early years of programming, there was this simple mantra that set the parameters for a computer system – G-I-G-O. Garbage – In – Garbage – Out. In other words, what you put into the system, is what you get out. Whether it is the design, coding, security, components, or whatever element of the system – what you get out of the system will never exceed what was put in.
Meridian is not the low-cost leader, and we do not want to be. We focus on creating quality self-service solutions utilizing top-tier components, a robust software framework, and knowledge that comes from over 20 years in the industry. We are not just metal benders and manufacturers – though we do it exceptionally well. We are first and foremost, solution providers in self-service.  We are paving the way to create the industry standard in exceptional products and services in the self-service industry.
Back to the Newtonian Cradle… when the 4 balls strike that solitary ball, there is transition of energy. The last ball in the colliding set remains stationary, and 4 fly forth in an opposing trajectory. For every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. We put in quality, because we intend to get out quality. We simply would not have it any other way.

by Chris Gilder

Out of Order’ – is that a self-service solution company? With the number of kiosk wearing that tag, you might come to think so. These three words translate to ‘No Thank You’ for end-user engagement and businesses considering purchasing these units. As a self-service solutions company, we find ourselves often competing with the perception that self-service doesn’t work, is not reliable, is too complicated or simply collects dust. As ‘Out of Order’ spreads, so does it’s market share.

When people ask what I do for a living, I tell them “I am in the self-service business.” I reference airport-ticketing kiosks as an example. Unfortunately, I often get the response, ‘Like the one in the movie theatre that never works?” To that I respond, “We try and avoid that situation.”

Recently a sales team member went to a local movie theater. As he approached the kiosk he saw the blank screen syndrome and the sign – ‘Out of Order.’ He noted that he did not ever recall the kiosk working. Rather than walk away from it like everyone else does, he sought out an employee. The employee commented, “That thing has never worked since it’s been here.”

The next work day, our sales team member called the theater’s corporate office and spoke to the IT director.  He offered to diagnose the kiosk and fix it at no charge (as it sits in our “backyard” and is an embarrassment.)

No matter who manufactured this kiosk, it is not a good situation for anyone in our line of business.  Whether the issue is with hardware, software, or as simple as the cleaning service leaving it unplugged – no matter the fault, someone should know about it and not rely on a customer to eventually ask “what’s this supposed to do.”

I have blogged before about the importance of quality grade components, but even the best components require management. Now for the plug, if you don’t use our Performance Management platform, Mzero, use someone’s.  Keep the industry growing, keep those kiosks running, and if there is a problem don’t just leave it with the unwelcome ‘Out of Order’ sign. The demand for self-service devices is on the rise. Let’s not curb that enthusiasm by promoting the ‘Out Of Order‘ kiosk company. They have too much market share as it is.

Meridian Founder and CEO Chris Gilder launched his new blog on Kiosk Marketplace – how you can avoid nightmare deployments. Self-service is a growing industry. More and more companies can see the value of integrating a self-service solution in their business. Consumers are becoming more comfortable with adopting the technology. The kiosk industry is growing and in light of the full-moon, Halloween and Frankenstorm Sandy, I thought I’d take a moment to talk about ways you can avoid a nightmare deployment. Read more: