Where is Steven Spielberg when you need him? Already in Las Vegas for NAB, I stopped by the Kioskcom and Digital Signage Show. The two shows could not have been more different. NAB took up the entire Las Vegas convention center while Kioskcom took up one conference room at the Mandalay Bay. As a result, I was able to speak to every vendor at Kioskcom and get a strong readout of the industry in a short amount of time.
The industry is highly fragmented and ripe for a revolution. Vendors where selling terminals with scroll wheels, better credit card readers, and even some interesting 3D presentation stuff. But when you step back a moment, you realize the potential for POS is so much bigger than a custom bezel around an LCD.
If you asked Steven Spielberg what he thought technology would do to the retail world in the next ten years, I bet he would knock your socks off. He would probably imagine you walking through the mall and stopping by a kiosk that recognized your face and told you were to go for the best sales and the newest items that fit your tastes. How would it know your tastes? Maybe past purchasing. Maybe by looking at how you were dressed at the moment? Maybe the items you were holding in your hands? Maybe the mall's surveillance system was watching what products grabbed your eyes as you walked by advertisements and perused the stores. Or maybe it would just look at what you 'liked' through Facebook's vendor integration.
So here I was at the biggest kiosk and digital signage show of the year and what were people talking about?
- Custom fabrication – Makes sense. Lots of local manufacturers competing based on quality. The outside of your product has to look slick in this market. Saw some great chassis design by Zivelo.
- Custom miniaturized/integrated hardware – I can see the need to be unobtrusive in a POS environment, but not enough to give up all the cost, supply chain and fulfillment advantages of using a Tier-1 PC supplier if you have a Windows or Linux based solution. Especially with everyone carrying their own mobile POS terminal (aka a cell phone) around meeting the mobile need? If you really care about size, use PCoIP hardware to virtualize the terminal.
- Software for basic content management – Only at one booth did someone mention they had salesforce.com integration. Leverage standards/cloud services to amplify your product!
- Software for system management – Why? There are DMTF standards in place that can meet all your needs here, and most of the tier-1 PCs support vPro or Broadcom's TruManage right out of the box for your OOB hardware management needs. No vendor should be wasting their precious resources on re-inventing this stuff. It's why Dell drove standards in the first place!
In all fairness, these are small companies that are driving very targeted innovation. That said, there is so much low hanging fruit, I expect to see some serious disruption once a couple of vendors consolidate and deliver the WOW factor. I would not be as bullish if this was a market for poker chip manufacuring . . . but this is the market for how every brick and mortor company interacts with its customers!
Where was the facial recognition and contextual selling? I guess we'll need to see if Spielberg will come to Kioskcom next year.
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