StoreTech 2012 Keynote Speaker Chats with Producer Amber Oldfield
In June of 2012 we will be launching a new event for senior retail technology executives called StoreTech. We are excited to announce that Nolan Bushnell, founder of both Atari and Chuck E. Cheese Restaurants will be joining us as a keynote speaker at this inaugural event. Throughout the past 30 years, Bushnell has created a name for himself as an innovator in retail technology. Bushnell has seen ideas flop and new technologies soar. It’s with this insight that Bushnell sat down with Amber Oldfield, producer of StoreTech, to weigh in on the future of the retail experience.
Amber Oldfield: Given the buzz around technologies in the retail industry such as RFID and mobile payments; what do you think brick and mortar stores will look like in the next 10 years?
Nolan Bushnell: The brick and mortar stores needs to focus on the elements of shopping… I believe that shopping and purchasing is an entertainment form and it is no longer really about the acquisition of goods. If you want to do that, the internet does it well. Right now providing a customer service experience is really where it is. We can talk about secure payments and a lot of the boring stuff but I don’t think the real power comes from the marketing idea: the stores that provide the most enjoyable experience will continue to prosper and the ones that don’t won’t.
AO: With more and more communication occurring through the use of technology; what benefits do you believe can still be gained from shopping “brick and mortar”?
NB: Like I say, the big space gives “try before you buy”, gives texture and gives things that you cannot transmit through online medium; I think [online] browsing is not the same as shopping. Shopping is an enjoyable experience when you are looking for the right gift. Online shopping can be a muted experience. The initial bandwidth that you have in a physical location is about 1000x times higher than what you would have in an online window and until we have complete immersive virtual reality gear that limitation will still be there.
AO: Outside the retail world, even meeting with colleagues, do you believe there are still tangible benefits to these face-to-face meetings over doing business via email?
NB: Absolutely, I think that we see this all the time; people get real cabin fever! They talk about nesting and all that, but at the same time most people that work at home do not like it. They do it but they don’t like it. There are exceptions all over the place but they want to hang out with the guys in the office. You see that both on the TV show and in physical life.
AO: You took some risks at Atari – one of which was hiring a described “hippie” named Steve Jobs. Given his recent passing, what kind of legacy and impression do you think he will leave on the world of technology?
NB: I think that Steve had a world dominant sense of style; a single minded vision of a simple computing environment in which he controlled everything and therefore made sure that it fit a very, very narrow demographic of usability and simplicity” What he did was make computing simple and I felt that one of the biggest mistakes that the board of directors made was when they let him go. I think Apple would have been a very different company; but who knows back to the future is a scary game to play.
AO: Do you believe this simplicity in design is something that clearly started with Apple?
NB: I would hate to think what the state of computing would be without the Macintosh [computer]. The Macintosh was such a dynamic move, even Microsoft was so dominant at the time nobody paid attention until it was Windows 3.0. What happened to Windows 1, 2, 2.5 and 2.4 – they were God awful! – totally unusable.
It’s clear from this conversation that there has been a shift in recent years regarding retail technology in both consumer product offerings and the presentation of these products to the public. But the driving force behind both product and presentation is the rapidly evolving consumer expectation.
“One of the things that retailers of all sizes need to understand is that nobody is staying in their box anymore,” says Bushnell, ” We are going to be dealing more and more with this concept of trans-media and increasingly retailers will be woven into the fabric of the media landscape. And the retailers need to understand how they play a part in the evolving media landscape. Books now are integrated with movies and television, video games, and Twitter & Facebook. Retail establishments need to really start to understand the social dynamic of how people consume information today; I really think increasingly, retail is going to be about how you package those little bits in new ways and build them into the brand.”
Nolan Bushnell presents on this topic and more as Keynote Speaker of the first annual StoreTech, June 10-12 in Henderson, NV. For more information on this event, please visit www.storetechsummit.com. To learn more about other CraigMichaels events, visit www.craigmichaelsinc.com.
For the inaugural Restaurant Development Summit, it was a touchdown! Kicking off the summit at the Turnberry Isle & Resort in Miami we had the winningest coach in NFL history, Don Shula, address the national delegation of restaurant executives on how “Everyone’s a Coach”. Shula shared insights from his historic career as well as candid thoughts on the state of professional sports and leadership today.
As a spin-off of the highly successful Retail Facilities Summit, the Restaurant Development Summit was met with great enthusiasm and attendees were engaged from the second they arrived. Delegates, Speakers, and Suppliers alike were able to network and exchange effective information in the relaxed setting of the resort. Many were able to find solutions to some of the critical issues facing their organizations as well as discover new approaches to better their business. It’s one thing for us to tell you, but quite another to hear it from the attendees:
- “Overall a great experience. Talented, knowledgeable people…very useful information that we can apply!” Bill O’Keefe — Applebee’s
- “Overall very positive experience. Great venue, good scheduling balance of the meetings and sessions. Very good content in sessions. Keep[s] the atmosphere intimate so you can have informal discussions during breaks.” Bobby Speir — Krispy Kreme
- “Wonderful networking event! Interesting & relevant speakers Lauren Taliaferro — Focus Design/Moe’s
- “This was the best CraigMichaels event I have attended. I’ve made some great connections with potential clients.” Laura Hodge — Glidden Professional
If you couldn’t quite make it to this year’s summit, check out pictures from the event to see just how engaging it was at our SmugMug
As always, we want to extend a very special thank you for everyone taking the time out of their busy schedules to join us this year. We couldn’t have done it without each and every single one of you and we hope to see you at the 2012 Restaurant Development Summit which will take place October 28-30th at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort & Spa in beautiful Palm Springs, CA.
Also we are excited to be launching another new event called StoreTech which will take place June 10-12th at the Loews Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa in Henderson, NV. This summit is geared specifically for CIOs and VPs of Information Technology at the nation’s leading retail companies. If anyone is interested in perhaps sharing the information with your peers in IT, you can direct them over to our minisite at storetechsummit.com
The trials and tribulations of making a site work across multiple devices seamlessly, all while converting our guides from paper into a digital format at the same time.
For our annual K12 Technology Summit we dared to do something that we had never done before. Something that would truly take us out of our comfort zone yet also set us apart from our competitors. We wanted to go paperless for a summit, what better time than now.
Before we dive into the nitty gritty details about this event, here is a bit of a back story. Early this year we experimented with our first event ever by having an unannounced launch of a mobile site by only telling people verbally at the event. We decided to use our Sustainable Operations Summit as the event to do this with. The first iteration of the site was definitely one that was in alpha version. The site had some bugs, performance was slow, a few incompatibility issues, and honestly it just didn’t look that great even by mobile standards. However though people definitely loved the ability to take their program guide with them and it was straightforward and easy to use.
To address the primary concerns/bugs that presented themselves at the Sustainable Operations Summit we had to decide whether to make the app fully native on the device or make a web based application. We had gone back and forth on whether a native application would have seemed more logical fit instead of the mobile website, however in order to do that we would have to create and maintain an app for at least the 3 primary platforms (iOS, Android, and Blackberry). In the end we decided to go the web based route and to look at the JQuery Mobile Platform for the next summit.
So while the site had to be largely changed the results were vastly improved and we were thrilled. Loading time on site was now tremendously improved. With the old platform we used it was taking users up to a half a minute to load all the elements on their device. With the enhanced structure of the site users were able to load any page in only a few short seconds. The second benefit of the new platform was device compatibility. This is imperative if you are running an event and expect hundreds of users to be able to access it no problem.
So after the subsequent events we tested the mobile site further, we used the Retail Facilities Summit, Research Facilities Forum, and Healthcare Facilities Summit as test events. Each event was better than the last in regards to mobile performance and feedback from our attendees.
It was decided that since the site had been proven time and time again of being a strong mobile platform for past events we were going to let it fly solo and rid ourselves of the on-site guide and go paperless. We thought what better event to try this on than a tech event where there is a topic on “Bring Your Own Device”? Many of the CIOs at the event have been or are planning on implementing this strategy of having students use their own devices to enhance the learning curriculum. This is exactly what we wanted to do with the mobile site this year, enhance the learning experience through easy knowledge exchange that is both fun and useful.
As with any sudden changes there was definitely hesitation in-house on how we can make sure we do this with very little to no errors since it is the primary form of communication between us and our attendees. To error on the side of caution, we decided that the personalized agendas still be distributed through paper form, that way even if there were any outages, internet hiccups in the resort, and so on, we would still be covered.
The site for K12 Tech was created for this event was actually a hybrid of meshing both JQM and WordPress together. While not everything was done through the WordPress backend, the heavy lifting of the photostream, additional mobile optimization, iPad detection, and chat functionality was.
To help with the overall process, communication was key. We made sure to send communication materials to all attendees that the guide would be completely mobile. On Sunday we further reinforced this by sending another email of the site link along with the ability for them to ask questions if they had any technical issues at all with the site. Also during registration, we had an iPad on site to give a thorough demonstration if any attendees had any questions about the site and its functionality.
Overall looking back at the site as it performed at the event, there were only 2 very minor errors/bugs that happened and had staggering statistics for the event considering the number of people that had attended. On site for the K12 Tech summit we had 145 attendees; we had 215 unique visitors to the site! Therefore we had people using multiple devices to access the site. The most popular device used for the site was the iPad followed closely by the iPhone. Another impressive statistic was time on site, which came in at a staggering 4:55!
Given the feedback from the attendees, we are anxiously looking forward to our next summit that will also feature an integrated mobile site, theStoreTech Summit in June, 2012. For this event, we look to improve an already a great platform and take it to the next level with it being fully integrated into WordPress along with giving users additional features that will be announced in the coming months.
Shawn Burns is the Web Services Manager with CraigMichaels. He has acted in the role since July of this year and started with the company in October 2010. For any questions regarding the mobile site feel free to contact him at: sburns AT craigmichaelsinc.com