When one envisions the preparation it must take to put on an industry tradeshow or conference, chances are the scene involves much more than a single person.
Not so for South Africa's first-ever kiosk conference. JustTouchIt 2009 will take place July 29-30 at the Eskom Convention Centre in the country's Midrand province, and industry veteran Frank Nunan is the event's one and only driving force.
Nunan's resume features a long list of self-service industry experience in the South African market, including projects with the country's Absa Bank and a groundbreaking partnership with IBM. He is now the founder and owner of The Kiosk Shop, an industry consultancy and services company.
Though self-service has existed in Africa in the form of ATMs, the kiosk market by and large has failed to expand beyond the ATM in Africa. Nunan says he started seeing increased activity in South Africa's kiosk market last year in the form of growing numbers of RFPs from the government, financial and retail verticals, but it was actually a sporting event that convinced him to move forward with a venture he had long felt was needed in the region.
"Much of the increased activity centered around the soccer World Cup for 2010, (and) it was this that was the final catalyst for the idea of a conference," Nunan said. "I felt that with 2010 coming up, people needed to have a better understanding of what self-service technology was capable of."
Nearly 70,000 people attended the last FIFA World Cup, held in Germany in 2006, and Nunan believes the event's presence in South Africa next year may represent a turning point for the country's self-service industry.
"(It) has prompted a great deal of interest in the technology, and self-service ticketing kiosks were used in the recent soccer Confederations Cup tournament here," Nunan said. "Certain international brands which use kiosks in the U.S. or Europe are beginning to extend their self-service offerings into this country."
Mike Lee, CEO of the ATM Industry Association, is based in South Africa and agrees that the region is ripe for expansion, particularly when it comes to financial self-service and transactional kiosks.
"Africa, the world's second largest continent, is made up of 54 countries containing a total of well over 900 million people, about 10 percent of the world's population," Lee said. "The rising middle class in dozens of African countries is embracing modern technology. It is safe to predict that self-service retail banking will experience steady and even impressive growth in the coming years."
What to expect from the conference
Nunan says his biggest challenge has been developing an impactful slate of content and programming for the event.
JustTouchIt 2009 exhibitors
The conference's exhibitor list is a relatively small one, but Nunan is more than pleased with what it will offer
"This has been the most surprising element – when I set out to organize this event, I never expected the exhibition side of it to be bigger than a few of the major players," he said. "I now have nearly 18 exhibitors and sponsors, with more still waiting to come onboard."
IBM Corp. GijimaAst Crystal Touch Microsoft Epson Heartwood Craft Euro Kiosks Network Photo Marketing Association International Digital Media Association Wincor Nixdorf Business Connexion Questek Advanced Technologies Laxton Touchscreen and Kiosk CashAccSys Online@ccess Internet Kiosks Imajinn
"One of the functions I see for myself as a kiosk consultant and service provider is education on the merits and benefits of kiosks and self-service," he said. "The industry is so small and so young in this country that I have tried to include as broad a spectrum of information as possible, in keeping with my basic theme of educating the market."
So he's tried to focus the show's schedule of events on the basic technological aspects of the self-service world — kiosk management and interface design, for example — as well as a look at a broad range of possible applications.
"You will see presentations on photo kiosks, human resources, community deployments, retail and so on," he said. "I have even incorporated some digital signage into the mix — an industry that is also growing quite fast here."
His reputation as an industry pioneer in South Africa has enabled Nunan to line up an impressive roster of speakers and presenters, as well. The conference's keynote speakers are Robert Porter, co-CEO of kiosk manufacturer Euro Kiosks Network; and David Ives, director of Microsoft South Africa's Developer and Platform Strategy Group. Other presenters hail from industry giants such as IBM and Wincor Nixdorf South Africa, both of which also are sponsoring the show, as are Epson, the Digital Media Association, the Photo Marketing Association and several others.
"Being the first (conference) of its kind, the fact that major names such as IBM, Epson and so on are involved has given it much needed credibility," Nunan said. "It has also indicated to me that I am not the only one who sees this market expanding. In terms of relevance to the attendees, the presence of such a diverse group of exhibitors will enable them to experience firsthand what is available to them in this country."