Humanise tech … resistance is futile … beep

HUMANISE technology or digital transformation is doomed — that’s the message from one of the experts speaking at the Retail Technology Show being held at London’s Olympia on April 26-27.

UK company imageHOLDERS works with a range of brands, from McDonalds to Nordstrom, on interactive kiosks and device enclosures. Its founder, Adrian Thompson, says the aim is for sleek and intuitive solutions — for employees and consumers.

“Businesses make the mistake of thinking this is about technology,” says, founder of imageHOLDERS. “It’s actually about people, what engages them, and how they behave. If you let technology lead the way, rather than the user-journey, you’ll fail.

“We’re in the heart of a digital transformation that will define our era in the same way as the industrial revolution.” And yet many businesses do nothing because, says Thompson, they “can’t see past tech terms” such as AI, IoT, and apps. “The real focus should be on how all those elements can be applied.”

For every business that stalls on digital transformation, he says, there’s one that makes an equal and opposite error: rushing to implement technology that isn’t fit for purpose. “We’ve heard horror stories of businesses making huge investments before they’ve even run a trial. I know of one company that bought 4,000 Android tablets that they ended up selling on eBay.”

Thompson also lays blame at the door of technology suppliers who peddle a one-size-fits-all approach. “Businesses have been burned by dead-end transactional solutions,” he points out.

Customers embrace in-store technology, and want solutions that make it easier to pay: “People increasingly expect technology to enhance their in-store experience,” says Thompson. “The retailers that succeed are those that find a balance between humans and technology.”