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: 12/10/2019

    Will female-led pop-ups add pop to Macy’s Christmas?

    I thought we settled this in previous discussions. These efforts are all fringe "niceties" with little real business value. Macy's needs to get their core business right, else these dalliances will do nothing but hasten their ultimate decline.
  • Posted on: 12/02/2019

    Why is Allbirds asking Amazon to do a better job ripping it off?

    This is a marketing technique--not a new one, but potentially a useful one. When a Goliath is accused of copying David's product, the usual defenses would be a protracted and expensive lawsuit that unlikely would be fruitful or a typical volley of accusations and grabs at sympathy. This technique gives the appearance of "the high road" using subtle intonations and reverse psychology to demonstrate to consumers both brand tactfulness and product differentiators. Whether it works for Allbirds in the face of Amazon's market reach will be an interesting test of how loyal its customers or its type of customers are to their products/brand.
  • Posted on: 11/27/2019

    Big things are happening as Small Business Saturday turns 10

    I'm skeptical of the survey because once again--like magic, the survey results align with the survey sponsor's intended outcome. No doubt that when asked, people are all for the little guy and no doubt they don't want to see empty stores on Main Street. Yet, Amazon and Walmart keep growing because those very same people want the convenience and pricing the big entities offer. It's good that Small Business Saturday continues to get better recognition and grow, but one day or even 10 days of focus is insufficient to keep mom and pop stores afloat. Until shoppers walk-the-walk in vast numbers all year long, small businesses are going to continue to struggle, unless they completely decommodify and seriously up their customer experience.
  • Posted on: 11/25/2019

    Private label foods need work

    Trader Joe’s is an unfair comparison for supermarkets--it is almost exclusively a house brand retailer. They are not. Supermarkets have largely built house brands as off-price equivalents to name brands and to a large degree, have wiped out any cachet their brands might have. To create new opportunities, it will likely take creating new store brands in addition to the lower priced existing ones, but at national brand pricing and with similar marketing strategies.
  • Posted on: 11/20/2019

    Will a hack ruin Macy’s Christmas?

    It’s very unfortunate that so many here are acquiescent about yet another data hack. Sure those unaffected by stolen data will lose sight of it in the information overload, but those whose data is abused can face years of serious heartache and in some cases life altering issues. Companies are able to get away with service level agreements stating things like “industry standard data protection.” When the industry standard is to have poor safeguards, PR spin, and a year of credit monitoring service, the industry is weak and unfortunately may need government regulation.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2019

    Is the environment Amazon’s Achilles heel or opportunity?

    Correct. How many shoppers are aware, how much effort does Amazon put into their "eco-friendlier" awareness and explaining the environmental benefit, and most importantly, how many choose it? I'll venture it's all minimal.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2019

    Is the environment Amazon’s Achilles heel or opportunity?

    Amazon will benefit very little from changing their practices to improve the environment. I certainly don't know all that they've done to date environmentally, but they are clearly greenwashers. That said, I don't care about Amazon benefiting, I care about the environment. Most people will say the same and still order one item at a time because they can have it the next day or sometimes the same day. It's a habit that will not change substantially because for most humans, the delight of getting a shiny new thing for immediate gratification outweighs far off benefits of controlling their urges for the greater good. Just the other day I thought of how Bezos wants to move humans into space and manufacture items there in a very distant future stating "...Earth can be zoned residential.” Yet HIS COMPANY is enhancing environmental problems on multiple fronts in the present. He already has too much money, so without question he has the opportunity to "be the change" and make a difference now, instead he has chosen profits and hypocrisy.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2019

    Are mixed reality apps set to skyrocket?

    It’s hard for me to accept that this is still a discussion question in 2019. Mobile AR is here to stay and will grow so long as (in the retail world) it’s baked into an existing app and eventually, a mobile site. It’s another layer of useful data and/or entertaining experience to engage users. Design with that mindset and it will be accepted and utilized, even by current doubters. AR headgear is niche market and only has a possibility of real growth if it’s seamlessly integrated into prescription glasses or sunglasses. All the hyped goggles have plateaued with niche markets and will not see much future growth.
  • Posted on: 11/08/2019

    Ralph Lauren offers consumers a DIY counterfeit-checking tool

    I'd like to know the details of how the Digital Product Identities system works. Obviously a QR code tag can be faked too, so there has to be more behind it. TruTag nano-porous silica considered GRAS--says who? This might be substituting one problem for another.
  • Posted on: 11/01/2019

    Survey says consumers want online orders shipped fast and free

    If it's readily available, who wouldn't want any perk they can get including fast and free shipping? The reality is (as many have said here over the years) free shipping is an illusion that's rolled into the price of goods. Elevating shipping to faster and faster intervals increases the cost of logistics/inventory management/shipping that consumers will be paying for as well. All that really happens is smaller businesses without scale get made more uncompetitive and eventually fade away. In time, that allows the remaining "at scale" players to creep selling prices upwards and hide the cost of fast/free shipping right under consumers' noses. Shoppers: be careful what you wish for.
  • Posted on: 10/31/2019

    McDonald’s drive-thru AI knows what you want before you order

    Drive-up ordering has always been a convenience fraught with challenges on both sides of the crackly speaker and an area of customer experience ripe for improvement. The first thing McDonald's has done right is to ask the customer for permission to apply AI to their ordering experience. That's a huge privacy factor lost on even the biggest of digital purveyors. As I said just a few days ago "... spooky equals secrecy, delight equals transparency." In this case (all really), being upfront about it turns the experience from a surreptitious one to something that potentially invites customer experimentation and social sharing. Next, they are adapting suggestions to account for factors beyond just previous order history "...like weather, wait time and item popularity." I'm confident that time-of-day is a variable too. This is an area where AI can differentiate itself from a history lookup engine. Lastly, there's the labor question. I have no doubt that advanced digital/automation technologies including AI and robotics will replace human workers despite all the insipid claims that displaced workers will be retrained as robot repair staff. Not going to happen. This part is definitely a societal question that needs genuine consideration.
  • Posted on: 10/30/2019

    Will free deliveries for Prime members make Amazon the driving force in online grocery?

    This undoubtedly will drive more business, but not significantly. I look at it as another chink in the armor Amazon has wrapped around the myth that when they paired with Whole Foods, they would be unstoppable. Whole Foods is such a mess in so many ways, especially its SKU for SKU excessive pricing, that this is just a Band-Aid.
  • Posted on: 10/29/2019

    AI needs to be more than just a bright, shiny object

    AI absolutely works well for repetitive tasks, but portraying the usefulness of AI as little more than an automation tool is silly. Like anything new, first movers often make mistakes and sometimes get suckered by salespeople pushing the latest be all end all. Nevertheless, AI is making excellent strides where logical use cases and due diligence drive deployments. As an example, AI is part of the bedrock of the banking industry behind the scenes and increasingly consumer facing. To think that retail is some exception that won’t follow suit is ridiculous.
  • Posted on: 10/28/2019

    What makes voice assistants creepy?

    It sounds to me like you’re arguing against yourself, Doug. People have the devices and are trying them for voice commerce because they want voice commerce. Have you ever seen an e-commerce web site from 1996 and compared it to one from today? It’s early days for voice commerce and it too will improve drastically, especially when it finally evolves to be part of a multimodal commerce interface/experience. Lastly, you are incorrect that “Voice recognition remains so poor.” The best systems (including those from Apple, Google, and Amazon) have voice recognition capabilities that surpass human voice recognition. They can be hampered by environmental noise and speaker distance, but that is being iterated continually.
  • Posted on: 10/28/2019

    What makes voice assistants creepy?

    FYI - uncanny valley dates to 1970. It’s less relevant now, especially for those who have human-like technologies around them from early childhood.

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