Tablet Kiosks: Which OS is Right for Your Business?

Our last blog began a conversation about tablet kiosks. As a mature technology, tablet computers have been at market now for a number of years and are produced by many more companies than we’re able to list. The first tablets mainly came from big names such as Apple (iPad), Google (Nexus) and Microsoft (Tablet PC) and had the expensive price tags to go along with the brand names. But with the category’s maturation, tablets are now being manufactured in inexpensive, practically throw-away models that are available well under $99 and sold as “generic” tablets from off-brands, usually with a version of an Android OS.

This dramatic drop in cost has meant that consumers now have incredibly easy access to tablet computers that are often even less expensive than their phones. The result is a level of comfort with this type of technology that wasn’t there even five years ago, and it’s part of what’s driving the surge in self-service technology deployment across multiple industries, including healthcare, restaurant and retail. The intriguing combination of consumer confidence, in tandem with the potential for decreased labor costs and falling tablet prices has proved irresistible to those companies constantly charged with the need to innovate while keeping overhead low.

Many of these less expensive, generally Android-based tablets have the added benefit of still managing to be highly customizable, an important factor for kiosk integration and deployment at market. While there is no debating that the Apple iPad is a powerful product, it’s not necessarily the right product for every application, given its lack of flexibility. In fact, whereas many Android tablets offer the option of expandable memory, and/or HDMI & USB ports, the iPad does not. Android-based tablets are even available in Flash-compatible versions, unlike iPads.

But what about Windows? Well, for as early as Microsoft entered the tablet arena (2002), they have never managed to catch up to the competition in most ways. Primarily, it has been hindered by its operating system. Windows has a few things going against it — it’s the most expensive OS at market, it wasn’t designed specifically for tablet computing and is its incredibly susceptible to infection by viruses and malware. But Windows tablets do still have some significant advantages — and ironically, the biggest is also thanks to its operating system. Because Windows is so widely used and familiar, it makes for a comfortable end user experience, and offers simplicity to most IT departments at the same time. Additionally, much like Android tablets, Windows tablets are also fairly customizable while offering Flash support, too.

Thinking about investing in kiosk tablets for your organization? Be sure to check out our next blog, and while you’re at it, RedyRef’s range of fully-integrated manufacturing solutions. We offer a one-stop solution for tablet kiosks from design to deployment, making it easy for companies of all sizes to integrate the latest and best interactive kiosk experiences into their businesses. Give us a call at (800) 628-3603 ext 525 or submit a request for proposal online and our team will be with you every step of the way.

Tablet Kiosks: A Customer-Focused Approach

Redyref may be known for digital signage and interactive kiosks (in particular our enGAGE line), but with tablets coming of age as a mature technology, we have taken great care to ensure that we are able to offer a full range of tablet kiosk options as well. Over the next few weeks, we’ll discuss some key factors to consider when designing a tablet kiosk, from choosing an OS to program deployment.

There are a few questions we hear frequently from our clients who are considering investing in tablet kiosks. One has to do with operating systems — which of the “big three” is most compatible with kiosk integration? The truth is that there are valid reasons to use each of them, but the number one most important factor to consider is the end user. Who exactly will be using the tablet kiosk? How will they use it? So while the OS is important — it must offer an outstanding user experience — the type of tablet and operating system chosen (Android, iOS or Windows) shouldn’t be the first consideration. Understanding the user is the most critical step to explore, and that needs to happen before worrying about the OS.

If the user journey has already been fully mapped out, this is when it becomes more helpful to take a closer look at the different operating systems and the various pros and cons. Happily, there are excellent tablets out there that are able to deliver great content at just about every size and price point. This is another reason why it’s important to understand the end user’s goals for interacting with the tablet. For instance, while it may at first feel necessary to invest in the latest iPad (the iPad Pro starts at $799 — not an easy number to swallow for most), if an oversized screen and extra graphics power aren’t required in order to effectively present your content to its intended audience, then you would do just as well with the original iPad air (which can be found as low as $299 for 16GB), saving $500 per installation. That’s the type of savings that adds up quickly, especially to smaller businesses.

RedyRef’s range of fully-integrated manufacturing solutions allow what is often a complex process to be handled completely in house, from design to delivery. When combined with our industry-leading customer service, we make it easy for companies of all sizes to offer their customers the latest and best interactive kiosk experiences. Give us a call at (800) 628-3603 ext 525 or submit a request for proposal online and our team will be with you every step of the way.

The Future of Self-Service Kiosks — Pt 5

Last week, we talked about the impact self-service kiosks have had on the banking industry in recent years. New technologies such as ATA (Automated Teller Assist) ATMs are helping to improve the bottom lines of financial powerhouses like Bank of America, while keeping customer satisfaction high by allowing easier and broader access to processes and services.   This week, we wrap up our series on the future of self-service kiosks by taking a look at how automation will affect the retail sector in the coming years.

“People have said when checkout is working really well, it will feel like stealing. You grab a pair of shoes and you just walk out.” That’s how Michael Chui, a partner at the McKinsey Global Institute, described the future of retail in an article by the National Retail Federation (NRF). While this may seem far-fetched, it’s not as futuristic a concept as it may first appear.  Just like barcodes now transmit product information to a POS system, someday, inexpensive sensors embedded in merchandise will do the same — only automatically — and charge your purchases to your payment method on file when you exit the store.
At the same time, it’s easy to dream up the self-service scenarios of the future while forgetting that if the end user isn’t happy, any new technology or implementation will quickly go the way of the dinosaur.  Take CVS, for example, who just this past October began removing self-checkouts from a number of their stores, due to customer dissatisfaction with the experience.  Or Morrisons, one of the “Big Four” supermarket chains in the UK, who found themselves doing the same earlier this year.

What it comes down to is that the implementation of self-service technology — especially when used at retail, where consumers have a seemingly-endless array of stores to choose from and have no problem voting with their dollars — must be looked at wholistically.  It can’t be simply a cost-cutting measure; instead, it must keep customer satisfaction front and center.  Self-service kiosks must make the customer’s life easier by adding value to the transaction — greater convenience, speed or overall efficiency, coupled with fewer opportunities for human error and more potential for personalized service. Millennials in particular expect technology that offers a seamless experience and have no problem walking away from a solution that doesn’t meet their needs or requirements for a product or service.  It is especially important to keep this perspective in mind when exploring new self-service technologies as the Millennial generation will only amass more buying power as it continues to age.

Finding the right partner to execute a self-service kiosk program is crucial to any deployment’s success. RedyRef’s range of fully-integrated manufacturing solutions allow what is often a complex process to be handled completely in house, from design to delivery. When combined with our industry-leading customer service, we make it easy for companies of all sizes to join the automation revolution.  Give us a call at (800) 628-3603 ext 525 or submit a request for proposal online and our team will be with you every step of the way.

The Future of Self-Service Kiosks — Pt 4

Our last blog continued the discussion around self-service kiosks’ impact on the medical industry. This week, we’ll focus on how digital kiosks are creating efficiencies for both banks and their customers via modern ATMs that feature Automated Teller Assist (ATA) technology.

Ever run out to an ATM to get money for the babysitter, or the dog walker or the teenager down the street who mows your lawn, only to be incredibly irritated when you remember that it only dispenses $20 bills? And you don’t have change? Because no one uses physical money anymore? This is just one of many problems ATA-enabled ATMs solve. Starting with Bank of America in 2013, this new generation of automated teller machines includes a wide variety of impressive new features, including deposit splits between multiple accounts, the ability to make loan payments and deposit checks with cash back (and receive exact change!) and yes — withdrawals will finally be made available in a variety of different denominations, including $1 and $5 bills. According to BOA executive Bassam Awadalla, “Half the transactions that occur at the bank are processed after hours…this is a way we’re leveraging new technology to provide our clients with additional options and convenience.”

While some of the technology found in ATAs (also called ITMs — Interactive Teller Machines) has been around for a couple of years now, the latest upgrades are just starting to roll out in 2015. The biggest change is the inclusion of video chat that allows customers to speak to a live banking teller, who is located at a central customer service center. This makes it possible for customers to initiate and complete more complicated transactions than they otherwise would. While live teller assist is not currently available 24/7 (Bank of America’s remote tellers, for instance, are available 7 am to 10 pm weekdays and 8 am to 5 pm weekends), it’s not difficult to imagine a time in the near future when this type of service would be available around the clock.

While BOA is an example of a large financial institution integrating new technologies into self-service kiosks, these types of deployments are also rolling out in community banks, including credit unions. While smaller banks and CUs may not see the same economy of scale as a national bank from the standpoint of equipment upgrades, because they are localized with fewer branches to update, they are generally more nimble and will need to spend considerably less money overall in order to stay competitive with big banks.

Want to know what else the future of self-service kiosks holds? Keep following RedyRef to find out. Already know that you want to be a part of the automation movement? Our experts are available to assist organizations of all sizes; just give us a call at (800) 628-3603 ext 525 or submit a request for proposal online and our team will be with you every step of the way.