Operationalizing Mobile Technologies

kioskRecently I was asked for more information about the POS industry. I wrote a piece about the trends in the POS industry about a year ago and it can be found here.

Being in the technology sector, things are constantly changing. Mobile continues to be a huge driver in the new POS technologies available. Kiosks are one of the fastest growing products. The Kiosk is the restaurant’s answer to self checkout. These are growing in popularity as it is a way for restaurants to reduce labour costs and also meet their customer’s expectations of technology integration.

I have seen Kiosks implemented many ways. My first interaction with a Kiosk was in France back in 2012. Many of their fast food chains, such as Quick and McDonalds had Kiosk stations where you could order and pay. You would then pick up your order when they called your number. I particularly enjoyed this experience, as it allowed me to hide my terrible French conversational skills.

One of the most impressive interactions with a Kiosk was to follow in 2015. I had a layover at Pearson International, so I decided to sit down for a meal. This particular outlet had tables upon tables populated with Ipad minis and charging stations. The Ipad mini’s were free to use for anyone. On these Ipad mini’s you could order and pay for food at the restaurant. It would then be delivered directly to your table. The picture at the head of this blog is from that experience.

While many businesses are embracing these new technologies, many are failing to operationalize mobile technologies. Have you ever had the experience of placing an online or mobile order and go to the restaurant at the specified time only to discover your order is not ready? I have experienced this many times! Smaller companies seem to suffer the most, as they do not have the benefit of having IT and operational teams that create workflows and processes that accommodate these technologies. Google’s mobile play book ranks this as a primary concern for mobile technologies (see http://www.themobileplaybook.com/en-us/#/home).

When we start using new technologies, we often take operationalization and learning for granted. Just implementing new technology will not automatically work, increase efficiency, or reduce costs. We first need customers to start using these new methods AND we also need to provide an acceptable experience.

When I first began my leadership career in restaurants, I was introduce to the idea of consumer training. Why is it that an out the door line up at Tim Horton’s will only take a few minutes to get through, but the same is not true of other businesses? Consumer training! Customers at Tim Horton’s are taught how to order their coffee efficiently with terms like double double.

Learning and training does not stop with employees, it also involves our customers. Just a thought to ponder…

 

 

 

 

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Weekly E-learning Challenge

As I’ve discussed in a few other blogs, I recently started using Articulate 360.

One of the reasons I chose Articulate over other course authoring programs is they have a well developed community where you can get support, advice, and learn new tricks. This community is called E-learning Heroes–cool name!

https://community.articulate.com/

One of the coolest things about this community is there are weekly e-learning challenges. These challenges involve creating a project that uses different features.

I am proud to say I completed this week’s challenge! This week’s challenge was to create an interaction that resembles a store checkout process. It was quite difficult, as it involves working with variables to add interaction to content. This not only involves a little bit of design, but is also getting dangerously close to programming. Sure I’m tech savvy, but I’m not a programmer!

But in the end, I was able to make something I am quite proud of and it works!

Please take a look: https://360.articulate.com/review/content/07cc405b-dcbd-466c-a136-d51dcbc31233/review

Digital Project Sneak Peak

Hello everyone,

For the first time in forever, I am taking a full two week vacation from work. What’s even stranger is I am not travelling anywhere!

This has left me with quite a bit of time on my hands, so I am planning to finish my digital project for a course even thought it’s not due until early February!

Recently, I also got a new course authoring suite, so I will be using this to build my project. Self-directed learning for the win!

Here’s a sneak peak:

The course authoring suite I am using is Articulate 360. I’m thinking I will be using the Rise platform to present the material while building out some components using Storyline.

More Thoughts on Technology and Cognitive Science

As I struggled through studying for a recent exam, I realized another impact technology potentially has on cognitive science: memory.

I used to thrive when faced with multiple choice tests. While we can debate about the effectiveness of this type of assessment on learning outcomes, for me at least I’ve always had a good memory and I looked forward to courses with these easy grade boosters. I was one of those lucky students, I’d take notes, but I never needed to use them. It always seemed that the act of just writing things down, wrote these in my brain somehow. How things have changed! For this particular course in question, I chose to go full digital, even choosing to purchase a digital text book which I could use on my smartphone and tablet. While I used the notes function built in the app and even took extra time to study, I found this experience to be a challenge were my old study habits would fail.

Many of you can probably relate to this phenomenon. Just a few years ago, you could probably easily recall many of your friend’s phone numbers by heart, but now you probably find this a challenge or would be completely lost without your smart phone.

This is a widely debated topic:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/14/memories-in-the-digital-age

This article discusses some interesting points on memory in the digital age. Research indicates that the experience I’ve recently had is linked to the fact that much of our information is stored in computers so we have less of a need to remember. While that can be seen as a negative side, as this author points out, through social media and other forms, we’re storing a lot more ‘memories’ than we ever did with our brain. This can allow us to recall experiences we would normally never remember.

This debate has been infused in educational circles.

http://www.bbc.com/news/education-32623794

The above article discusses recent debates surrounding allowed tools in exams. I remember when I was in high school, the use of calculators was a highly debated topic. The same is now happening regarding use of search engines. The argument against the use of these tools is that it prevents students from using memory. Proponents argue that we need to adapt to the digital world and encourage critical use of these tools.

These tools will not disappear any time soon, so learning and assessment of learning needs to adapt to incorporate these tools. If the goal of learning is to be able to adapt skills and knowledge to various situations, the best use of our time is to incorporate these tools in learning. Critical thinking and evaluating information sources are far more important skills in the digital age than memorizing facts.

We still have a long way to go in developing online educational tools that have similar benefits to the traditional face to face classroom. This is no reason to block the tools. It is an amazing thing that these tools are forcing a high order evaluation and critical thinking than traditional route learning. I’m much happier spending my brain power and space on developing critical thinking than memorization.

So while the digital textbook and noting taking has been a challenge, I plan on continuing down this path. My studying habits will need to adapt. And maybe one day soon technology will adapt to reproduce that noting taking to memory experience I once enjoyed.

Trends in the Point of Sale Industry

The first thing that came to mind when I read this week’s topic was “where do I start?”

First off, maybe a little background is necessary as Point of Sale (POS) may not be intuitive for some. A Point of Sale is basically a computer for retail or restaurants. While it does many things and often interacts with other technologies, at it’s basic it’s the thing employees in restaurant or retail enter in what you want to buy and tracks or processes the payment.

As it is a technical field, changes are frequent. Computer models change, operating systems get released or retired–there’s a constant stream of technological changes.

But this post cannot go on for day, so I will focus on two major developing areas: Mobile Technology and Payment Industry Security Standards.

Mobile Technologies

I’m sure you’ve been to a restaurant and been pleasantly surprised when you do not have to escort the server to some debit terminal connected to the wall by an old school phone cable. Or maybe you’re experience is opposite! Either way, there is a shift going on in the POS industry where businesses are demanding more mobile technology.

The above is just one example. Some businesses are moving away from standalone terminal solutions to tablets where servers can enter orders without going back to a station. These solutions often utilize wifi or 3g technology to communicate orders to the kitchen and process payment.

Another example of mobile technologies is mobile ordering. This type of technology allows customers to enter in orders, set a pick up time, pay for the item and beat the line when they go to pick it up. Here’s a video demonstrating this technology (the video is a few years old, but the technology is still alive and well!).

Similar to mobile ordering is the newest trend Kiosk ordering. While this technology is not exactly mobile, it allow customers to remotely order items from a different location and either pick it up or have it delivered to a particular table. Many business are looking to this technology to reduce labour costs, as the kiosk can do most of what a cashier does. Here’s another video demonstrating this technology:

 

Payment Card Industry Security Standards

One of the most pressing trends in the POS industry is Payment Card Industry Security Standards. Remember a few years ago when everyone needed to start using debit and credit cards that have a chip? That is the result of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCIDSS). These standards determine what practices–from encryption of data to who has access to it–are needed to prevent fraud and data breaches.

The standards are constantly changing. When I first started in this industry 10 years ago, it was barely discussed. Since then, there have been several liability shifts, changes in encryption levels, and the of course the physical card technology. It’s not a short process either. Only recently, have the majority of local businesses adopted chip technology. Currently, this shift is in motion in the US:

Chip Credit Cards Are Coming to the USA: Here’s What You Need to Know

This article discusses the “liability shift” that occurred in the US last October. This means that any merchant that does not use chip enabled technology, can continue to accept payment, but they will be responsible for fraudulent purchase. The road to full compliance will take several years.

These PCIDSS standards often create a need for new technology. Going back to my example earlier of following a server to a debit machine earlier, chip transactions require a pin, which means the technology either needs to be mobile or the customer has to be physically present.

Talk about trends driving each other!