Thursday, November 7, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Self-Service Kiosks: Past, Present, and Future

Photo Credit: IBM

Above is a picture of the world’s first self-service kiosk created by IBM who partnered with American Airlines, and American Express. It was used as an airline ticket vendor and received high praise from its test trial, with 99% of users saying they would use it again. IBM continued to create and make advancements to many self-service kiosks throughout the years and still to this day.

Today, many companies are coming up with ways to enhance what can be accomplished through self-service and they have come a long way since the first kiosk was introduced. Now self-service kiosks are popping up everywhere in the community – from grocery stores to DVD rentals, airports to train stations – people are demanding self-service to be an option. Just recently, a national pilot program for Peapod was implemented. Peapod is a mobile application for online grocery shopping. This program is setup in train stations across the US (where people typically have to wait long periods of time for the next train) and individuals step up to a specific panel on the train platform and downloads the Peapod app. They can then virtually grocery shop through aisles, pay online, and be done; quick and easy. That is essentially what the customer’s want; a quicker and easier way of doing everyday tasks. And with the sort of technology resources we have, why not make life a little more efficient.

“I really think the future holds many great possibilities. I think the ATM was the first instance where a person had the opportunity to interface with a piece of machinery, and that allowed that person then to be comfortable with interfacing to other pieces that came out since then—like PCs, as an example, and we all know the success of the PC. I think we’ re going to see much, much more of that happening in the future. I think people nowadays and in the future are going to have the opportunity to not only come up with a lot of new products but also to be able to use those products in ways they never dreamed of.”
-Don Wetzel, Co-patentee of the Automatic Teller Machine.

I agree with Wetzel, the future allows for infinite possibilities that can only be imagined right now. Eventually, a shift from self-service kiosks will move to be completely in the cloud. For example, already people rarely go into the bank. ATM’s are what people prefer to use, but slowly the need for ATM's will be unnecessary because of the cloud. People can deposit checks, transfer money, etc via digital devices. Pretty soon everything will be automated; you will be able to talk to a Virtual Agent and tell it what you want, and it can do it for you.

Do you envision a world were kiosks will live in the cloud? Or are there certain situations where the presence of a kiosk is needed?