December 23, 2003

KMC Article: Year End Wrap

The stage is set for an exciting year ahead...

The stage is set for an exciting year ahead, if the self-service industry has gained any knowledge from the experiences of 2003.

"If anything, we've learned that there has never been a more exciting, more stressful and more lucrative time to participate in an industry that has quickly transformed the way the world interacts," said Shamira Jaffer, executive vice president of TouchPoint Solutions, talking about 2003.

"The industry is continuing to grow and mature. Mindsets are shifting. Viewpoints are changing. Alliances are strengthening. Standards are emerging. New market segments are materializing. Old ones are diversifying. And all the while, technology is evolving, driving expansion and fueling demand for better products and more choices," Jaffer continued.

Many of the industry leaders queried by KIOSKmarketplace mentioned that the kiosk market has matured and become more solid than ever before. Companies are starting to build real business plans before they build enclosures or applications. And they see plenty of opportunity. Their opinions are listed below. Some were even brave enough to answer the question, "What was your least-positive, or least-successful business decision of 2003?"

In the meantime, KIOSKmarketplace continues to cover the daily news of the industry. Here are some interesting stories of 2003:

Faces and Places. Greg Swistak, former president of Factura Corp., granted an interview about the fall of the once-mighty kiosk company and the growth of his present company, Mercury Aviation. Swistaks whereabouts had been an industry mystery for a year, and the Factura story became indicative of the financial trouble many kiosk companies had. NetShift closed its only U.S. office, citing poor sales in the country. Netkey offered the fresh, new face of V. Miller Newton, former head of monster.com. Newton replaced Netkey founder Alex Richardson as chief executive officer. Alan Fryrear, chairman of NetWorld Alliance, became the executive director of Kiosks.org. KOA is trying to expand its reach globally, to reflect the international nature of the kiosk industry.

All about convenience. C-stores became a strong market for kiosks, which vendors like Coinstar, Cyphermint and Info Touch Technologies leading the way with strong business plans. Kiosks in c-stores now have e-financial services to aid the unbanked population and convenience-minded shoppers. Consumers using some c-store kiosks can buy lottery tickets, shop for flowers, get a PIN for topping up their phone cards, and conduct banking all in one place.

Showtime. KioskCom in Las Vegas, and KiosksEurope 2003 drew record crowds of people seeking information on the industry. But this year, another trade show emerged: Voyagis Kiosk Show, which had the goal of staying small and focused on complete self-serve solutions. The intimate show puts new emphasis on partnerships in the industry. KOA debuted its own partner pavilion program at Retail Systems. The pavilion contained only self-serve vendors. NACs saw its share of kiosk vendors on the floor, mostly demonstrating food-ordering terminals.

Thats hospitality. The travel and hospitality markets stayed in the news with regular announcements about hotels testing check-in kiosks and airports adopting kiosks for boarding passes. Several airlines reached impressive milestone for customers served. The Common Use Self-Service standard will gain a role in tying airline, hotel and other hospitality kiosks to common databases.

Not-so-human resources. Large corporations learned this year that kiosks in break rooms and on factory floors are a great tool for educating deskless workers. Companies have a responsibility to ensure their employees all have access to benefit information, and kiosks fill the bill. The self-serve units are also effective at screening prospective employees.

New technology emerges. RFID and wireless technology gained new respect in the self-serve industry. Vendors like NCR Corp. are experimenting with radio frequency identification for self-checkout in grocery stores, and loyalty programs in the retail setting. Wireless technology offers kiosks clean design and easy connectivity.

Picture perfect. Photo kiosks emerged as a strong segment in 2003, as the use of digital cameras became mainstream. Consumers love taking digital pictures, but dont seem committed to purchasing the expensive supplies needed to process the photos in their homes. So they are turning to photo kiosks for processing. And the technological advancements are keeping up with consumer usage -- these units can now even process digital photos from mobile phones.

Always some controversy. Internet kiosks, or more precisely, the way some are sold through infomercials, received scrutiny from the consumer press. And the reliability and security of voting kiosks came under fire this year. These stories continue to develop.

Beyond the headlines

Heres what some industry leaders told KIOSKmarketplace about lessons learned in 2003, and what they are looking ahead to in 2004:

Sylvia Berens, vice president of sales and marketing, Apunix Computer Services:

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Sylvia Berens

Q: What was your best business decision of 2003?
A: To launch our Browser-on-a-Chip kiosk software to assist customers in deploying kiosks where they can leverage existing Web services.

Q: Did you learn anything new about the kiosk/self-service industry in 2003?
A: Yes, that there are many customers who, even though they understand that using their Web site as a kiosks is not a good long-term strategy, know they need to begin with that as a starting point. What they need is a robust environment on which they can deploy an evolving Web services-based solution.

Q: What apps are going to be hot in 2004?
A: Customer loyalty will continue to grow, as there is an easy way to document the ROI. New applications include kiosks to draw more customers (promotional kiosks) and more integration of vending and self-service kiosks (like CDs and DVDs on demand).

Q: What do you expect to be a big development in the industry this coming year?
A: We think the industry will focus on more, smaller personal kiosks like kiosks in the back of airplane seats, restaurant tables, and product display cases.

Elaine Bresnick, vice president of sales and marketing, Swecoin US Inc.:

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Elaine Bresnick

Q: What was your best business decision of 2003?
A: Our decision to sell consumables (paper) and extended warranty service contracts.

Q: Did you learn anything new about the kiosk/self-service industry in 2003?
A: Yes. The kiosk/self-service market grows larger and more robust every year. We saw many new applications, many new ideas, a solidness in the market that wasnt there a couple years ago.

Q: What apps are going to be hot in 2004?
A: Human resources, health-related units and digital photo kiosks.

Q: What do you expect to be a big development in the industry this coming year?
A: We plan to introduce several innovative printer products in 2004 that we think will spawn new applications for reliable, self-serve kiosk printing.

Sean Carlin, retail industry manager, MEI

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Sean Carlin

Q: What was your best business decision of 2003?
A: MEI decided to invest in developing products and integration tools that cater to the kiosk marketplace. By doing so, we've helped deliver a plug-and-play solution to the industry that is saving valuable time for OEMs and retailers. This is coming at a time where retailers are realizing that, in order to maximize retail transactions, they need to accept cash in self-serve systems.

Q: Did you learn anything new about the kiosk/self-service industry in 2003?
A: Kiosk projects are moving from concept to completion much quicker than in the past. Retailers have more urgency to deploy kiosks and self-serve systems to meet competitive pressures. No longer are we seeing projects brought too quickly to market, without proper research about customers needs. Instead, we are seeing many more well-developed, viable solutions enter the marketplace. The potential of the kiosk marketplace is finally being realized as retailers are becoming more involved in the process. Ultimately, this will provide the consumer with technology that is more on the mark.

Q: What apps are going to be hot in 2004?
A: We believe that traditional retail stores with kiosks selling complementary products that still support their consumer segment will be a new trend.

Q: What do you expect to be a big development in the industry this coming year?
A: As retailers become more involved in the process, they will be demanding more creative design of their kiosks that complement their stores and brands. We also expect that consumers will continue to demand alternative payment methods (cash, coin, credit, debit).

Mark Ceciliani, vice president and general manager of the industrial business unit, Planar Systems:

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Mark Ceciliani

Q: What apps are going to be hot in 2004?
A: Check-in for travel and hospitality applications are going to be hot next year. I believe hotels, resorts, car rentals and theme parks will find that customers will place great value in the ability to check-in at self-service kiosks the same way that airline check-in has been hot the last several years. Another potential hot area is fast-food restaurants and deli's, where pre-ordering rather than standing in line is a value proposition. The retail environment will become a much more self-service and interactive place to shop with the deployment of digital signs and kiosk systems to promote products and services in a dynamic way along with advertising and promotion content that is much more targeted and effective.

Q: What do you expect to be a big development in the industry this coming year?
A: Wireless technology will mature to the point where it is a cost effective and reliable way to transmit content around a kiosk or dynamic-signage network. I also expect that the market channels for kiosks will experience transition as traditional kiosk integrators find it harder to add real value to the off-the-shelf systems that will integrate all necessary kiosk functions into a reliable, cost effective and easy-to-procure solution.

John Eisenhauer, chief executive officer and president, Mercury Online Solutions Inc.:

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John Eisenhauer

Q: What was your best business decision of 2003?
A: Focusing on the retail sector. Kiosks have proven to be a valuable tool for merging bricks and clicks and can clearly add value to both online and in-store sales for any national retailer.

Q: What was your least-positive, or least successful business decision of 2003?
A: It's difficult to say because every decision created some positive result, even though some were not in the form we expected. I did, however, gain clear insight on how valuable our staff's knowledge and experience is to this emerging industry. In retrospect, I would have changed any priority that took our core team away from pushing the envelope to new customers and new applications.

Q: Did you learn anything new about the kiosk/self-service industry in 2003?
A: We gained solid confirmation that our digital signage networks move the sales needle up. Even though we inherently knew it, it always makes a difference to have objective results.

Q: What apps are going to be hot in 2004?
A: Any technology that will aggressively remove barriers between bricks and clicks for retailers.

Q: What do you expect to be a big development in the industry this coming year?
A: A growing trend toward alliances between specialists and away from competition will be at the forefront in 2004. There will be an increasing demand for large-scale rollouts driven by lower technology costs and increased performance. That demand will enable companies to specialize and partner with others that provide complimentary products and services.

Lindsay Frost, international sales manager, The Neo Group:

Q: What was your best business decision of 2003?
A: Continued improvement and expansion of our services and product range, with particular focus on our key market sectors, and conservatively addressing some of the emerging markets that will gain positive benefit from kiosks. Putting considerably more resource into company and brand-awareness development (Neo is now in the top three kiosk suppliers worldwide, but we are virtually unknown outside of our core markets).

Q: What was your least-positive, or least successful business decision of 2003?
A: Overall we have been very happy with our results this year, with another year of very strong performance. I think our least positive decision was not resourcing up quickly enough for some rapidly expanding markets.

Q: Did you learn anything new about the kiosk/self-service industry in 2003?
A: I see definite signs of the kiosk industry maturing. There is a definite transition for "I want it now" to "I want it right," and a lot more focus on planned, business-based outcomes rather than ill-planned speculation. The Internet, which was feared by many as being the enemy of the kiosk, has in fact become a great enabler.

Q: What apps are going to be hot in 2004?
A: I think e-commerce via kiosks has definitely come of age. E-Democracy is worth watching.

Q: What do you expect to be a big development in the industry this coming year?
A: In terms of newly applied technologies, I think that wireless is definitely becoming more adopted, particularly in the bigger networks. The value of sophisticated network management is also being increasingly recognized and adopted.

Francie Mendelsohn, president, Summit Research Associates Inc.:

Q: What was your best business decision of 2003?
A: To research and publish a report on digital-photography kiosks with product comparisons.

Q: What was your least-positive, or least-successful business decision of 2003?
A: We held on too long to the dream that pure public access Internet units (Web payhones) will prove to be very successful.

Q: Did you learn anything new about the kiosk/self-service industry in 2003?
A: Even in good times, some technologies and solution providers will not pan out. People should cut their losses while they can. Face it -- some companies are just not going to make it.

Q: What apps are going to be hot in 2004?
A: Digital photography, digital signage, food-ordering units. Retail in general.

Q: What do you expect to be a big development in the industry this coming year?
A: WiFi, biometrics (especially for public sector) and 802.11g

V. Miller Newton, chief executive officer, Netkey:

Q: What was your best business decision of 2003?
A: Coming to Netkey. It has great people, proven technology and a terrific market opportunity.

Q: Did you learn anything new about the kiosk/self-service industry in 2003?
A: Self-service has become mainstream. The rapid acceptance of self-service in retail, banking and HR by both customers and businesses will accelerate through the coming year.

Q: What apps are going to be hot in 2004?
A: From the infrastructure side, remote monitoring and management is key to lowering the cost and increasing the value of self-service networks. From the application side, human resources and hiring systems continue to grow as businesses focus on improving employee relationships and performance and automating costly manual systems.

Q: What do you expect to be a big development in the industry this coming year?
A: Wireless certainly is playing a larger role in mainstream deployments, as evidenced by Netkey's work for the BMW X3 kiosk system. But I believe the use of an enterprise-level software platform, managing multiple self-service applications and digital merchandising systems, will drive measurable returns for retailers and other businesses in 2004.

Frank Olea, vice president, sales and marketing, Olea Exhibits/Displays Inc.:

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Frank Olea

Q: What was your best business decision of 2003?
A: To introduce three pay-per-use Internet kiosk designs.

Q: What was your least-positive, or least-successful business decision of 2003?
A: Engineering a kiosk without a written commitment. It can still turn into a plus, though, because we have a good design on our hands.

Q: Did you learn anything new about the kiosk/self-service industry in 2003?
A: It seemed as though in years past, kiosk companies would say that a kiosk is made to support staff or supplement a work force. Now it seems as though people are saying they can replace individuals or entire teams. As bad as that may sound, it seems as though many customers are all too happy to look at it that way.

Q: What apps are going to be hot in 2004?
A: Anything truly self-service based: loyalty kiosks, self-check in, self-help.

Q: What do you expect to be a big development in the industry this coming year?
A: Wireless will continue to grow in popularity as the market matures. We expect to see kiosks being deployed with some sort of wireless app more frequently.

Doug Peter, president, St. Clair Interactive Communications Inc.:





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Doug Peter


Q: What was your best business decision of 2003?
A: Expansion of kiosks to many forms of customer-facing devices


Q: What was your least-positive, or least-successful business decision of 2003?
A: Being too optimistic about the industry


Q: Did you learn anything new about the kiosk/self-service industry in 2003?
A: The industry continues to make it extremely difficult for buyers to buy.

Q: What apps are going to be hot in 2004?
A: Loyalty, financial services, all forms of customer service and product information.

Q: What do you expect to be a big development in the industry this coming year?
A: Year 2004: Wireless. Year 2006: RFID

Tim Peterson, kiosk product marketing director, NCR Corp.:



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Tim Peterson


Q: Did you learn anything new about the kiosk/self-service industry in 2003?
A: Consumers are increasingly more interested in self-service. According to a study conducted for NCR by IDC, nearly 70 percent of consumers in five different countries say they would be likely to use self-checkout. In the United States, consumers say they would be as likely to use self-checkout as they would other popular self-service technologies such as pay-at-the-pump.


Q: What apps are going to be hot in 2004?
A: The hot kiosk applications are going to be those that allow consumers to serve themselves. Examples include self-checkout at retail checkout, self check-in at airports, hotels, self-ticket at theaters and self-order/checkout at quick-service restaurants.


Q: What do you expect to be a big development in the industry this coming year?
A: The biggest developments in the near term will be "simple user interfaces." While this may seem mundane, todays applications and technology are still large and complex. The next wave of self-service solutions should be smaller, better integrated and easier for consumers to use. NCR designs its kiosks so they are easier to maintain in the field and so more peripherals can be organized in a smaller, well-packaged space.

Rob Ranieri, practice leader, e-access, IBM Global Services

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Rob Ranieri

Q: What was your best business decision of 2003?
A: It was the culmination of a decision we made a few years ago, which was to fully embrace the IATA Common Use Self-Service standard. As a company IBM is very committed to open standards. CUSS is a great open standard. We got on board early with making our platform, monitoring software and application capability conform to the standard as it developed. There have been several highlights in 2003, but the biggest has to be the kiosk platform installation at McCarran airport with our partners ARINC, the airport management team and a large number of airlines. Twelve airline applications running on a common IBM built kiosk platform. And all of this monitored by our software tools. Not bad. A great step forward for CUSS.

Q: Did you learn anything new about the kiosk/self-service industry in 2003?
A: There is a need for a continuing focus on the self-service end user interface. The self-service product is now mainstream, it is not just for the technical savvy folks who can figure out what to do, it is also for the occasional user. That calls for more care in the design interface, and the processes to support the traveler at the kiosk.

Q: What apps are going to be hot in 2004?
A: The hotels will increasingly look to share the benefits which self-service kiosks have brought to air travel. CUSS will offer a number of different opportunities to share kiosk infrastructure between airlines, airports and alliances as well as bringing on new partners. We are also seeing much more discussion with our customers on a multi-channel approach. One application deployed to kiosks, handhelds and the Web. A common application flow design but with a different look and feel for each channel.

Q: What do you expect to be a big development in the industry this coming year?
A: In the travel sector we focus on, a continuing move away from ATB-2 technology to bar code. Our customers are discussing a number of topics with us including security (biometrics) and smarter data input requirements (e.g. APIS data collection). Our objective over the past few years has been to build a flexible self-service platform so that we can relatively easily absorb the new developments as they gain strength in the market. We have already deployed a number of these including biometrics, image capture and passport data capture.

Hamed Shahbazi, chairman and chief executive officer, Info Touch Technologies:

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Hamed Shahbazi

Q: What was your best business decision of 2003?
A: To keep focused on IFTs business plan and not be diverted by other occurrences in the industry.

Q: Did you learn anything new about the kiosk/self-service industry in 2003?
A: It is resilient and will continue to grow.

Q: What apps are going to be hot in 2004?
A: Those which are financial services related.

Q: What do you expect to be a big development in the industry this coming year?
A: Wireless. The industry is only starting to understand the significance of Wi-Fi paired with kiosks.



Paul Wiener, marketing manager, EloTouch Systems




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Paul Weiner


Q: Did you learn anything new about the kiosk/self-service industry in 2003?
A: This past year reinforced the principle that ROI is king in kiosk deployment.


Q: What apps are going to be hot in 2004?
A: Self-service, such as check-in, check-out and registration.

Posted by Craig at December 23, 2003 02:31 PM