PROFILE

Ken Lonyai

Consultant, Strategist, Tech Innovator, UX Evangelist

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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Perspectives (blog)

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  • Posted on: 06/15/2021

    How will companies manage a staff of vaccinated and unvaccinated workers?

    My final post on this: Dick - start here: Pierre Kory, M.D., M.P.A. the doctor that created the current US national protocol for in-hospital COVID treatment. If your real interest is educating yourself, you will find other reputable medical/scientific sources. A safe workplace is a wonderful idea. How is that fully defined? How many things should be mandated against a citizen's right to privacy and choice for the right to a safe workplace? What about mandated mental health screening with a tracking app [passport] to validate that every worker's screening is up-to-date to minimize the chances of bullying, harassment, sexism, and especially gun violence? All of those problems exist today and are dealt with--after the fact. It's a unicorn employer that has pre-emptive mandates for "employee protection" as the concept of mandating vaccines and vaccine passports purports to be. As I've said repeatedly, this is not about anti-vax, this is about logical thinking and logical choices that maintain an individual's rights over emotional, fear-based, illogical, poorly formulated policies that have no end and don't necessarily protect anyone any more than other options. And George - I personally know six people to get COVID without and were not hospitalized, one of which has multiple comorbidities. He is unvaccinated. By all accounts, he should have been dead. He represents millions of infected people that didn't necessarily have severe COVID without a vaccine. There's hype, corporate profits, and then there's logical and respectful policymaking.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2021

    How will companies manage a staff of vaccinated and unvaccinated workers?

    Bob - I did not state that anyone was duped. I asked a question about logic. As far as collective responsibility, where is that every year for the flu? 350,000+ deaths since 2010 in the US alone. Do you want mandates for that too? What other personal mandates should be required for people to hold a job?
  • Posted on: 06/15/2021

    How will companies manage a staff of vaccinated and unvaccinated workers?

    Rick - I didn't miss any point.
    1. I answered the query which referenced "corporate offices, warehouses and stores"
    2. So your position is to fire competent employees that are unvaccinated rather than have smarter policies?
    3. Many vaccinated people are now concerned as information is coming to the fore from very unequivocal sources [not fringe websites] that these vaccines may have long-term or permanent negative health consequences. And other reliable sources have reported that the 90% effectiveness you reference from manufacturers was manipulated by how their "studies" were conducted in order to get product approved under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). And that proves that Phil Rubin's "data and science" is dependent on who interprets the "data and science."
    For all the above reasons, I see no valid argument to further erode citizens' rights to accommodate corporate liability concerns when there are simple alternative solutions that can work for everyone, especially when the next phase, vaccine passports managed by large private tech companies with poor privacy records, was not mentioned here at all--but should have been.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2021

    How will companies manage a staff of vaccinated and unvaccinated workers?

    The issue has proven one of two things: logic no longer exists in America or something is wrong with the vaccines. If an unvaccinated person is in proximity of a vaccinated person, so what? If the vaccines work, the vaccinated person is not at risk. If they don't work, what is going on that everyone has been duped just so that pharmaceutical manufacturers can make billions? If it's a liability issue about the unvaccinated acquiring the virus from a vaccinated coworker, again, what's wrong with the vaccines? A simple liability disclaimer posted at store entrances or signed by employees stating that unvaccinated people enter at their own risk is all that is needed without intrusiveness and/or taking more rights away from Americans. And people unvaccinated by choice understand the risks, so it will not affect business. Turning them away will. So if anyone here can demonstrate logical thinking behind these policies and vaccine passports, let's hear it.
  • Posted on: 06/11/2021

    How do retailers and brands overcome consumers’ ‘green’ skepticism?

    The simple way to prove that a product or brand is green is to truly be green. Greenwashing only exists when it's marketing spin and not real. True green initiatives create their own proof by being authentic, so being transparent about sourcing, processing, and environmental impact is the authentic brand story that consumers want to hear. Think like Patagonia.
  • Posted on: 06/10/2021

    Will grocery basket sizes be cut down to their former size?

    If the pandemic is over or when it is over and people cascade back to a pre-pandemic lifestyle, essentially, basket size will return to what it used to be. Some people that discovered or rediscovered home cooking will persist and buy more, but many people will drop it. Additionally, inflation is hitting food prices and is only expected to worsen and the overall economy and stock market are raising concerns, so in time, shoppers may have to economize on their grocery spending.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2021

    Membership gets you 24/7 access at new grocery store

    I like the idea that this is a hybrid model. Success is hard to predict because there are so many variables involved including the post-pandemic environment, community demographics, marketing plan, product assortment, pricing, etc. It will be interesting to follow up in a year and learn what happened. One concern is security for shoppers in the store or leaving the store in the overnight hours.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2021

    How fast can stores fill curbside pickup orders?

    Curbside is going to all but die despite people finding it to be a delightful new experience during the height of the pandemic. For those that choose to continue using it, anything beyond a five-minute turnaround once on location negates the option. In-store pickup turnaround is very specific to the vertical and time of day/day of week. For example, peak hours at a grocery store can really cause a strain on BOPIS and lengthen turn-around versus off-peak. From my first-hand experience, some retailers don't take these options as seriously as their hype leads one to believe, leaving it to individual store managers to succeed or fail without good corporate oversight. Two examples: Whole Foods (orders placed through Amazon) and to a similar degree Wegmans (orders placed via Instacart) both often have very poor inventory management/forecasting. Between the time an order is placed and it is picked, there are many out-of-stocks, leaving gaping holes in orders. It's not a supply chain thing, it's very lackluster store-level inventory management. Home Depot: curbside has been hit or miss. The worst was at one of their better locations when after a half-hour after checking in and waiting, I went into the store to see where my order was (as did others). The service desk associate was very nonchalant in telling me that the person in charge of curbside must have gone home without telling anyone. I can easily list a few more firsthand Home Depot curbside failures here as well. And BOPIS returns have been unimaginable fiascos multiple times, requiring corporate intervention. So it seems that some retailers get it and understand user-centered design thinking and others tick a box for marketing perception.
  • Posted on: 06/07/2021

    Will closing stores on Thanksgiving become the new retail tradition?

    We can accept these gestures as goodwill towards associates, but the reality is there's as much goodwill PR towards the brand as well as the need to be on par with competitors, to otherwise risk negative consumer perception by not doing this. Add to that healthy online pre-Black Friday sales and nowadays there's no real revenue hit.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2021

    Voice assistant takes orders from McDonald’s drive-thru customers

    NLU accuracy from the major providers is in the 95 percent range, which is better than human conversational understanding and more than sufficient. And proper systems are designed with a fallback to humans. Why McDonald's has such a low understanding threshold is unknown based on details here (typically ambient sound is a big factor), so McDonald's is no threshold to judge the technology overall.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2021

    Voice assistant takes orders from McDonald’s drive-thru customers

    Voice and textual chat interfaces are powered by a form of AI called NLP and NLU. When the set of subject domains is limited to a minimum, it allows the NLU to be more effective, whereby its underlying training and machine learning can be narrow and deep, versus trying to understand many things. Drive-thrus lend themself to effective NLU and voice interface because the scope is limited. So rather than the variability of an associate that may be distracted, multitasking, poorly trained, or even not customer focused as the point of interaction customers interface with, an AI voice assistant is completely focused, consistent, and improves continually. It's the one fast-food role where I see no doubt that AI should get the job over humans. I would however suggest having the most cheerful employee passing the food to the customer to end the experience with a happy humanized touch.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2021

    Do chatbots need to be more likable?

    Having authored a whitepaper on chatbot persona and worked deeply with bots and artificial assistants using both textual and voice interfaces, I can guarantee that it's easy to say what the bot/AA should do and quite hard to make it happen. For example, in order to create a better user experience, a great human agent can perceive a customer's tone/persona and adapt to it in the moment. Many, human reps however, are poor judges or act the same no matter what, trudging through their work robotically. And as happened to me just a week ago with a Home Depot rep that was both rude and clueless, can cost their employer sales. AI technology is making inroads to being a "properly" reactive respondent but what proper is very much depends on the perception of the user it's interacting with, just as with human reps. But unlike human reps, there is only one AI system with one intelligence. So given the need to represent a brand identity without offending users and without damaging the brand and the state of technology presently, most bot deployments will err on the cautious side and not lean towards a persona that can be offensive. As far as understanding user wants and utterances, NLU/AI training improves constantly just as e-commerce did to get us to where we are today. It's a separate issue from persona that some may not understand well.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2021

    Hubert Joly says ‘human connection’ laid the foundation of Best Buy’s turnaround

    Retailers can learn from the two sides of this transformation: empowering/respecting staff and treating customers like more than a source of revenue. Retail suffers from huge turnover because staff are treated as expendable, replaceable commodities that are kept distant from "all-knowing" upper management. Seeing and leveraging the value of front-line brand representatives is a powerful tool to create memorable customer experiences. Giving customers a little more than they asked for and being focused on them throughout interactions creates a connection that transcends price and utility. Best Buy has melded these pieces well (backed by a number of other good decisions) that need to be added to other retailers' toolkits if they want to fight to stay relevant.
  • Posted on: 05/13/2021

    Simon says J.C. Penney is ready to become a 21st century retailer

    This is a lot of spin. The brand has an extremely muddled identity, the stores need massive investment to make them appealing and uncluttered, and they are largely mall fixtures -- and despite what David Simon says, malls themselves are at risk. The era of Sears and J.C. Penney ended long ago, they just don't accept it (yet).
  • Posted on: 05/12/2021

    Are two PacSun CEOs better than one?

    I don't believe in co-CEO’s and most often it fails. There can only be one point on the spear for it to be effective. One CEO and another C-level role to lead certain functions is a better path.

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