Square Peg

  • Mornings, with their abrupt collision of familial, personality, and lifestyle elements, can be fairly difficult to get through. Even with the routines we develop day in and day out, sometimes gravity throws a wrench in our plans and breaks a coffee cup or upends a cereal box. But we slog through the steps of beginning our day, relying on instinct to guide us through many a multi-step process.
  • Unfortunately, one of the most mundane attributes of this daily regimen is about to change. Milk-pouring might actually require serious concentration. At least for a little while.
  • A new, square one-gallon milk jug has already been introduced by a couple of mega retailers in the U.S. The new shape was developed as a more efficient (and hence "green") alternative to the plastic jugs and milk crates of yore. The new jugs stack more compactly on store refrigerator shelves and on pallets for shipping, eliminating the need for bulky milk crates that need to be retrieved and cleaned by dairy distributors between store deliveries.
  • It all sounds positive until consumers try to pour milk out of the new boxy cartons. The task has proven so difficult that stores are providing demonstrations on how to "rock and pour" rather than picking up the jug like we're used to doing.
  • Even with a cost savings that is passed on to the consumer, these new milk containers are provoking ire as they wreak havoc in kitchens around the country. This is, in effect, a paradigm shift in pouring with which we will slowly become familiar. Another new and improved product that seems unnecessarily difficult to adopt.
  • This might be how your customers feel when you present them with a new-fangled AV system. If the control interface isn't intuitive, if things don't work the way they're supposed to, the hiccups in their routine may seem insurmountable. For some, the resulting frustration may outweigh any supposed efficiency you're selling.
  • Fortunately, the AV industry is making strides to improve the experience of consultants, contractors, and end users. Based on evidence gathered at InfoComm last month, it appears that manufacturers are adding specific features to increase efficiency all through the chain-from more efficient spacing of connectors to more elegant ethernet networks.
  • And it's not just the hardware that's improving. At the show, exhibitors talked about labor savings and free shipping. They talked about green AV and showed evidence of consideration for a product's total life cycle.
  • So even if your customers arrive at work, school, or their house of worship with recent memories of spilled milk, maybe they will be cheered by the extraordinary care you put into your system design.
  • -Kirsten Nelson