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Facilitating A Touchless World with RRD’s Ken O’Brien

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How many times over the last year have you visited a restaurant and sitting on the table right in front of you was bar code that led you to all the information you needed. From drinks, to desserts and entrees and everything in between, that simple code unlocked a handful of opportunities and experiences all through technologies that already exist within your phone. With more than 2 billion QRC- and NFC-enabled devices in use today (including the cell phone you might be listening to this podcast on), and in the midst of a global pandemic, QR codes have undergone a renaissance and companies such as RRD are rushing to meet your needs.

“We create those touch points, something that triggers the experience, and that can happen way before you get to a payment machine, that can happen on a label on the outside of a product, on signage, outside of a building, on a post in front of a parking space, any number of different ways where a individual can engage a device, where they are basically triggering a touchless experience.”

Making smartphones smarter and the user experience better through taps, snaps or scans is RRD’s latest piece of communication technology, Touchless World. Ken O’Brien is the EVP and CIO of RRD, a leading global provider of marketing and communications. And while you might not think RRD is known for its transformational technology, you’d be flat-out wrong. 

On this episode of IT Visionaries, Ken provides context for how RRD’s Touchless World operates and how the company is helping its clients leverage NFC technology to deliver seamless customer experiences. Plus, Ken dives into the challenges that the company currently faces, including how it is managing its technology debt after being in business for more than a century.

Main Takeaways:

  • It’s a Tough World: When a company is more than a century old, that shows that it has adapted, grown, and changed with the times. As that happens, though, technical debt builds up and needs to be dealt with in order to stay agile.
  • But What is A Touchless World?: A touchless world simply means eliminating some of the impediments that can cause a poor user experience, such as waiting in line to checkout at a kiosk. By developing scannable QR codes that incorporate a device’s NFC system, RRD. has given the user a streamlined experience. 
  • Keeping Up with the Times: One of the most important things for any company is continuing to modernize its tech stack. Regardless of any technical debt that may have accumulated, it’s critical to always have a clear path for your digital transformation efforts.

For a more in-depth look at this episode, check out the article below.


Article

How many times over the last year have you visited a restaurant and sitting on the table right in front of you was bar code that led you to all the information you needed. From drinks, to desserts and entrees and everything in between, that simple code unlocked a handful of opportunities and experiences all through technologies that already exist within your phone. With more than 2 billion QRC- and NFC-enabled devices in use today (including the cell phone you might be listening to this podcast on), and in the midst of a global pandemic, QR codes have undergone a renaissance and companies such as RRD are rushing to meet your needs.

Making smartphones smarter and the user experience better through taps, snaps or scans is RRD’s latest piece of communication technology, Touchless World. Ken O’Brien is the EVP and CIO of RRD, a leading global provider of marketing and communications. And while you might not think RRD is known for its transformational technology, you’d be flat-out wrong. 

On this episode of IT Visionaries, Ken provides context for how RRD’s Touchless World operates and how the company is helping its clients leverage NFC technology to deliver seamless customer experiences. Plus, Ken dives into the challenges that the company currently faces, including how it is managing its technology debt after being in business for more than a century.

Think of it like this: when you go to a restaurant and scan a barcode for the menu, and that menu pops up, that’s a similar service to what RRD’s Touchless World is helping to facilitate. O’Brien said the goal with this new technology is centered around streamlining the user experience when it comes to making digital transactions and interactions. Currently, RRD does not produce the machines that make these transactions happen, but they do make the interfaces and infrastructure that work behind the scenes to bring it to life. 

“Something’s got to trigger the touchless experience,” O’Brien said. “Usually that’s either a device or something with a barcode RFD. We create those trigger points… that can happen way before you get to a payment machine. It can happen on a label on the outside of a product, on signage, outside of a building on a post in front of a parking space, any number of different ways where an individual can engage a device.”

O’Brien said RRD’s goal is to remove the friction between the user might have during any experience. In certain cases, such as dining at a restaurant, that means removing physical kiosks and putting the power of transactions in the users’ hands.

“Even when you think about restaurants, and you see those kiosks on the table, this means getting rid of the kiosks,” he said. “You are the kiosk, your device is now the kiosk. And so we’re actually working in the opposite direction of a lot of the machine elements to try and eliminate as many of the mechanical elements as possible and allow touchless to be a barcode, an NFC chip, something triggered from wherever you are or wherever you can point your phone.” 

O’Brien said the future of a system, such as Touchless World, can include something as large as department stores, where a user can pull an item off a shelf and the network of the system can identify the product and the price, while the shopper seamlessly adds it to their cart.

“I have a system in store that actually allows you to walk through and pick up all the products that you have in your cart and tie it to your phone from when you walked into the store,” O’Brien said. “It is already tied to whatever payment platform you’re using and bam you’re done. There are touchless stores out there, but that concept is really not that hard from a technological enablement.”

While RRD’s Touchless World is exciting, O’Brien was quick to point out that the company is focused on other areas as well as it pushes forward into 2021, and that includes making remote work environments feel less remote.

“A lot of what we’re doing right now is just trying to create a good remote work environment experience,” he said. “How do you make this seamless and not difficult? So I can make sure that when I’m trying to engage with somebody, I can see them, and I can also see the materials, and all of those things. That’s where we are right now, and where a lot of our focus is.”

To hear more about Touchless World and O’Brien’s role as the CIO, checkout the full episode of IT Visionaries!

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Episode 260