Toss the Kiosk – It’s all Mobile

I am a fan of everything mobile, but have a little confession to make. While waiting recently for a colleague in his office lobby, I spotted a large touch screen kiosk prominently positioned in the middle of a grand space, the large screen boasting bright content. I glanced both ways as if to make sure no one was watching, and slowly walked toward the kiosk to try it out. 2 things struck me instantly: scrolling across the screen was like flipping through an old phone book and everyone else in the lobby, probably as curious and nostalgic as I was, seemed embarrassed to approach it.

I remember the first time I saw a touch-screen kiosk in a shopping mall. There were 4 or 5 people crowded around it buzzing on about how this was the future. Sadly, and without much forethought, I thought the same thing then. But it didn’t matter I was in the future, and didn’t care that I had to stop at the next kiosk because I forgot the directions the previous kiosk had given me.

Think back to the fax machine. Technology historians will tell you it was intended as a temporary communications platform to get us by until email took hold. But, people held onto faxes well beyond their intended relevance, and regularly utilized both communication methods simultaneously and for the same purposes. It was pure and unnecessary duplication of effort and reliance on a redundant technology.

When the first smart mobile devices started appearing, I saw early indicators of various technologies and information converging at a single point: the smartphone. Much like email and the fax machine, you got the sense that smartphones could replace several other technologies.

Cut to today. Virtually every person I pass on the street or in the office have their faces illuminated by their smartphones, narrowly missing oncoming obstacles. Smartphones engage their owners with valuable and meaningful information, such as directions, weather, nearby attractions, or ever-present social media and online searching. Online marketers and advertisers have cleverly figured out how to use a person’s smartphone location to engage and entice people with information, personal messages & offers. It’s puzzling to me why, in our workplace environment, we have not embraced this style of mobile engagement to give our employees access to a broad range of information and tools to make their work experience more productive and engaging. More puzzling is why we put our smartphones away and gravitate to the nearest touch screen kiosk? Is it nostalgia? Or, is it simply habit because we refuse to give up on a dated technology?

Kiosks, while they can serve as advertising and branding showpieces, are fixed and present fairly static information but don’t engage employees or visitors. By the time we’ve traveled 20 floors away from the kiosk, remembering critical navigation points and destination information becomes challenging.

Mobile devices, on the other hand, are quite literally at our fingertips, updating data and information inside and outside of a building. Engagement starts even before the employee gets to their desk.

Here are a few examples of what is possible today with mobile engagement.

– Mobile devices can pick up GPS signals as they near a workplace to offer users access to floor maps, building directories, desk or room reservations, building services, and other location-related information.

– Indoors, mobile devices can lock on a beacon signal to locate itself and navigate within the building.

– While inside the building, mobile device users can access location-specific corporate self-service tools to make service requests, reserve rooms or desks, locate colleagues and building amenities, look up local or in-house services

Companies & organizations willing to engage employees while they’re on the move will benefit from vital data about their buildings and how well they’re designed and utilized.

For now, don’t toss the kiosk they make good digital signs. Instead, connect and engage your employees with their workplace wherever they are. They will thank you for it

Steve Lisle