PROFILE

Ken Lonyai

Digital Innovation Strategist, co-founder, ScreenPlay InterActive

Ken is a 15 year veteran of interactive project development including some of the industry’s most unique experiential systems. His skills span the on-line world and nearly every realm of human/computer interface used by brands and retailers – mobile, interactive kiosks, experiential displays, and more. Known as the man with the miniature R&D lab in his head, when he’s not working on a client project, Ken can be found designing, tinkering, and developing some cool new experiential device in SPIA Labs.

He is a consumer engagement expert using cutting-edge, unique, and enticing brand experiences that encourage “like”, “share”, and “buy now” behaviors, as well as a creator of true consumer excitement by baking-in fun, social, and gamification actions that generate results. Focused on producing “amazing user experiences” for brands and retailers, he helps companies transform into destinations that consumers seek out and want to interact with.

Ken is a subject matter expert in user experience, most things interactive, experiential marketing, mobile app strategy/development, and digital UX/UI.

Additionally, he is a co-founder of NUI Central™, an organization to promote using natural human traits (voice, gesture, eye movement, etc.) to bi-directionally interact with smart devices.

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  • Posted on: 01/23/2017

    Can soccer be a differentiator for Target?

    Logically, this is a good investment area for Target. Whether it translates into profitability, only time will tell.IndyCar can't compete with soccer's growth trajectory. Soccer is multicultural, it's a sport that's inclusive from pee-wees all the way up to pros and it's cross gender. In the '50s, every boy had a baseball mitt, in the '60s and '70s, they had a basketball too, but now tons of boys and girls have a soccer ball. So the potential to sell into both the equipment side (which includes a piece of fashion) and the fan side is enormous. So all the elements are there. Execution is what is going to make or break the opportunity, especially with mobile.
  • Posted on: 01/17/2017

    Sir Richard Branson at NRF: Are retailers looking outside the box?

    Paula makes some great points about brands. I'll add that whether retailers have brand equity or not, spinning off new and often diverse businesses is no easy task. Richard Branson is a true entrepreneur, while the majority of retailers are corporations run by conservative businesspeople. These same retailers completely missed the promise of e-commerce (in the early days) that is now beating them into a frenzy. I want to be positive, but I do not see many being able to create supportive businesses in the way that Virgin has, that will be a net positive for their effort or brand. Especially not department stores.
  • Posted on: 01/16/2017

    Can AI resolve customer service disputes?

    Although I'm a big proponent of AI in customer support roles, this implementation has the potential for error and abuse. Pulling data "from whatever publicly available information there is about them" is a very slippery slope. I've been involved with AI personality insight tools, but none that would pull public data trying to re-allocate it in a different context. A consumer that uses, say, Twitter for tongue-in-cheek quips or posts about their interests in, say, slasher movies might be misinterpreted in the system because the context is entirely different and from what I've seen so far, AI is not that good with interpreting sarcasm or humor.On top of that, the whole thing sounds creepy. In this instance, I would vote for better human CS rep training and a better mechanism to escalate or switch calls to alternate reps rather than the hazards and privacy issues this platform might instill.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2017

    Will Alexa become the voice of IoT?

    First, I share Cathy's concerns, but agree with Ben, that we are the exceptions (look at what people divulge on Facebook) and that few will be shocked. That said, the reassurance of having Alexa in a 3rd party device, does not mean the product is vetted and secure.Amazon has a major advantage, not by being first mover (they are not), but by being first to capture significant market share and attention in such a short time. Their penetration has succeeded in convincing the press that "voice is the next interface" even though voice/NLU has been a viable option for years. In fact, for a long time on RetailWire I've been saying "tired old click and touch interfaces" will be superseded, so I appreciate Alexa helping to open some dated mindsets here.Don't dismiss the competition, there's plenty of artificial assistants in the pipeline, that won't be shilling for product sales and will offer other benefits.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2017

    Will 2017 be the year retailers start making their stores relevant again?

    Not that I disagree with your point on service, but, if you go by the Astound Commerce survey cited in Bloomberg, 55 percent of consumers would rather interact with technology in-store than a sales associate and 41 percent don't want to interact at all. The overlap is that they say 69 percent believe positive associate interactions are important.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2017

    Will 2017 be the year retailers start making their stores relevant again?

    It would be nice to think retailers are finally awake and focused on store transformations but, as an industry, I don't see it. There's always the normal distribution of those way ahead of the curve and those seriously behind. In retail the curve is bloated in the middle, where most just go with the flow. Going with the flow is a dangerous place to be now more than ever, but I do not believe a majority of retailers recognize that enough to change. Unfortunately, it will probably take more rude awakenings in the form of retail failures and e-commerce advances before those that can make a change will finally do so.
  • Posted on: 01/06/2017

    What will the sale of Craftsman mean for Sears and Stanley Black & Decker?

    Craftsman is Sears' crown jewel brand. Mortgaging its future to cover current hemorrhages is a clear indication that times are desperate for the retailer. Sure they may use the influx of cash to make changes for the better, but once you start chipping away at the bedrock of the company the structure is seriously weakened. This is definitely a milestone we will look back upon regrettably in the (not too distant?) future.
  • Posted on: 01/03/2017

    How can retailers make online reviews more useful?

    Most e-commerce site reviews follow a common format which leaves much to be desired. Tapping new approaches to add value to consumer reviews is a low-cost investment in customer retention and increased sales. As has been discussed on RetailWire before, stacking great numbers of reviews that lack quality doesn't help shoppers -- something I've seen happen when purchasers are incentivized to leave reviews. So providing intelligent options and flexible means for shoppers to evaluate other users' feedback is a necessity for sellers that invest in other UX refinements. The ideas Tom presented are a great start!
  • Posted on: 12/30/2016

    How can the retail job market survive the AI revolution?

    Retail is like any other business: efficiency and cost cutting are always paramount to survival. So despite the sociological implications and impetus for "doing the right thing" merchants will undoubtedly embrace AI for its virtues at the expense of employees.Ultimately, this is not a retail issue but a societal one. I've butted heads with other pundits over the impact that automation including AI will have on the workforce. They often state that workers will be retrained as "robot repairmen," but evaluating the realities of those statements shows their weaknesses. Simply, the White House has this right, there is a serious job loss issue coming in the next couple of decades that all industries will take part in. Retailers will bear their responsibility to contributing to it like every other industry, but, without a very earnest and effective retraining/restructuring effort society-wide, retail is likely to suffer most from displaced workers' reduced consumption.
  • Posted on: 12/29/2016

    Will online grocery gain traction in 2017?

    Online grocery is just as inevitable as online books and online everything else. However, the majority of food shoppers are old enough to be habituated to the local grocery more than say, tech buyers. As they slowly gain comfort with online grocery and younger buyers comfortable with digital shopping assume more grocery buying responsibility, the tipping point will come to the fore. Certainly, 2017 will see growth in the category, but not at break-out unless someone steps up with a major disruptive paradigm in the next few months.While I don't expect any to have the commitment and resources, the door is still open for local/regional supermarkets to claim their market online before Amazon or Walmart do to them what Amazon did to tech or fashion stores. Hurry guys.
  • Posted on: 12/28/2016

    What does Alexa’s holiday win mean?

    Short-term this is an Amazon win but, ultimately, it's the tip of the iceberg for new consumer interactions with digital. I chuckle at (often older) pundits who react with disdain when I talk about "tired old click and touch interfaces" because they can't see anything beyond what has become mainstream over the last 20 years. The reality is that AI and complimentary interface technologies like voice, machine vision and emotional sensing are rapidly moving towards commonality and again changing how people interact with things, brands and one another. Just like radio scoffed at the advent of TV, this is absolutely where digital is headed. So for now, Amazon has big early mover advantages. In fact, they opened up the Alexa ecosystem to be brand and developer's first choice and to maintain that for as long as possible.That said, although Amazon has a great lead, the future is still unwritten. It's still the early days and there is plenty of opportunity for innovations and new business models in this arena.
  • Posted on: 12/27/2016

    French retailer parodies Amazon Go

    Very clever! One thing Monoprix has going for it that Amazon doesn't: their service exists today and we know it's real. Amazon put out a video that, as of now, is conceptual and has some flaws in the described functionality. If Amazon Go comes to be it definitely will cause ripples in retail but, as Monoprix points out, it is not the only mechanism to achieve convenience and a delightful customer experience.And that's the bottom line: delightful customer experience is all that matters, not how much/little technology is employed to achieve it.
  • Posted on: 12/14/2016

    Why are retail employees going around company systems?

    It's not a question of what's okay, but what's best. If employees are using alternative tech/communications to be more effective at work, it's a big wake-up call to a retailer to get with the plan quickly.I see this so often, especially with customer-facing technology. Some salesperson hits a home run making a big tech sale to a retailer, installing equipment that is either partly outdated at its onset, has a very short future or has an impossible real-world ROI. The retailer gets locked in and can't admit a mistake and customers and even employees lose.So if the people that are on your front lines have better alternatives to systems that management thinks is best, embrace them or at least test them and be willing to take the hit for outmoded systems. It will likely still be more net profitable in the long-run.
  • Posted on: 12/09/2016

    Amazon offers incentives for Prime members to wait on deliveries

    As described, the gray area around the incentives is especially weak for Amazon, which usually is very direct about things.Overall, this is a big lesson for competitors trying to stay in step with everything Amazon does: if they are having trouble with their very sophisticated, proven and well-developed logistics system, overreaching may get others into serious trouble.
  • Posted on: 12/06/2016

    How can retailers prompt customers to write product reviews?

    Jasmine -- in theory your proposal sounds good, but I've seen it fail miserably on more than one website. Pureformulas.com is a great example. They were crediting just 50 cents per review and it generated endless useless garbage. Here's an example I just pulled about a specific Vitamin B product: "We LOVE pureformulas and all their products!" So paying people to go through the motions is, in itself, a failure.

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