Coca-Cola Freestyle: Abject failure of design.
I’ve mentioned the problems in balancing the Transformational and the Operational in the past. Here’s a great example of a failure: the new Coca Cola machines, designed by Ferrari people.
They look cool. They offer 100 or so different drinks. But they’re terrible. Why? They completely ignore the transactional nature of getting a fountain drink.
First, look at the characteristics of the “old” way of getting a drink:
* People get ice independently.
* People get drinks independently.
* The number of users is only physically limited by the relation of wants to available flavors
* Personal space is the only other limitation and it’s self balanced based on the aggregate needs of the users.
All this equals out to a massively parallel and self balancing transaction. 5 or 6 people can get a soft drink in under a minute.
But now, you’ve replaced this whole setup with a completely serial (linear) path. Every person must individually:
* Get ice
* Decide what they want on the screen (note that the time taken here is a characteristic of a primary feature)
* Select it
* wait for a much slower dispenser to finish.
Some of this will go away as people get more familiar with it. But it doesn’t change that it is now a much longer process where each step must wait on the next, and each user must wait on the next too. I personally observed 8-10 people in line during a busy lunch hour. I waited at least 4 minutes. Not terribly long, but your establishment is not going to make too many friends creating needless waits like that.
How in the world is complicating the high markup world of soft drinks a good idea? Further highlighting the lack of business insight is the Iced Tea factor. If you want ice for your tea, you still have to wait in line with the soft drink people. Tea has absolutely huge margins for a business. Why in the world would you tacitly discourage it?
Failing to understand the multiplying factors in transactions is a very common problem, and we see it in tech all the time:
* Replacing legacy text-based systems with bulky, HTML driven systems.
* going with low cost physical options (such as dot matrix) instead of laser and thermal
* The basic flow of screens and clicks
In my real job, I found that all these little milliseconds were adding up to big time…um…time over a day. In banking and credit union-ing, this means long lines of people waiting to get money. This is not a good thing, particularly when you’re trying to get those people to increase their relationship with your institution. While we will never avoid lines altogether, we made a great deal of progress by switching hardware and systems and eliminating all the small “please waits”.
Early studies in management used techniques such as chronocyclegraphy to assess the efficiency of every little movement by a worker over time. While this is now subtly deemed oppressive and almost inhuman, the concepts still live on in eye tracking and mouse movement analysis. However, I doubt anyone paid even 1 minute of attention to the impact of these Coke machines. “The kids will love ‘em!”
So, in short, it’s just another way people have attached a computer to something and made our lives worse by not using corresponding design technology. Well, unless you think that dis-incentives to gulp about 400 calories of corn syrup are a bad thing. These things could actually save some lives in about 40 years!