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KioskCom/DSS: Trends point to end-users

Tradeshows often reveal industry trends, and this year’s KioskCom Self Service Expo and The digital signage Expo in Las Vegas was no exception to the rule. But two of the more noticeable trends coming out of the show had a similar focus: the customer — and his experience — are keys to successful project deployment.

A faster future

One trend felt across the trade floor was the shrinking time between initial RFP and deployment for many customers.

“Three years ago, when someone decided to go forward with a project, they had to ‘steal’ the funding from elsewhere in the (client company’s) budget,” said Brian Fairfield, Nanonation vice president of sales. He explained that much of his role used to involve educating clients on kiosk applications and potential uses. “Today, (clients) have identified budgets for projects like this and they usually know what solution they want.”

Along with educated, better-funded clientele, kiosk and self-service providers are encountering a bounceback from recession-era conservative spending.

“It’s roll up our sleeves and get it done,” said Cheryl Madeson, marketing manager forKiosk Information Systems.

She says the company’s project timelines have shrunk from as long as 18 months to as short as two to three months from start to finish, as retailers finalize deployment projects they had put off during harder economic times.

It’s all about usability

Another frequent topic of conversation at the show was usability: How can self-service deployers improve customer experience through better interface design?

Francie Mendlesohn, president of Summit Research Associates Inc., led a keynote address in which she displayed examples of interface design. From clear, useable interface screens to crowded, unreadable interfaces taken directly from company web sites, she ran the gamut from functional to useless interface screens. In closing, she noted that usability is something that changes with both customer habits and business goals.

“In some ways you can say a kiosk project is never really done,” she said.

In another keynote address, Library of Congress COO Jo Ann Jenkins walked participants through the library’s award-winning interactive kiosk deployment. Her main point? The project, which involves a significant amount of software and hardware, focuses in the end on two things: content and user experience.

“The wow factor’s the collection itself,” she said, referring to the library’s extensive archives. “The technology needs to stay out of the way.”