Q&A with Chris Rowe, VP Global Hardware & Systems Engineering

Chris Rowe, VP Global Hardware & Systems Engineering

User experience informed every aspect of our latest series of self-service terminals andmodules. We sat down with Chris Rowe, who was instrumental in managing the research, design and production of the terminals, to talk about why it was so important to get it right — and how the team went about engineering the latest Diebold platform.

Diebold: Which came first, the user insights or the product specs?

Chris Rowe: Definitely the insights. Our team started this journey by traveling to the major global regions where Diebold is active — Asia Pacific, Europe, Brazil, North America, etc. — and leading strategy sessions to talk with our teams there about the pain points they were hearing from clients. We diligently went about that region by region. Those meetings helped us create the first concepts that eventually became our new series of terminals.

DBD: What did you discover from those initial sessions that most intrigued you?

CR: We realized that financial institutions wanted more flexibility and options to address the wide range of locations where self-service terminals are employed, and the increasing diversity in terms of consumer preferences. That led us to design a tiered system that enables financial institutions to choose durable, acquisition-cost-optimized terminals and modules if that aligns with their strategy, or opt for terminals where the TCO benefits show up from a more long-term perspective.

DBD: Was there anything from previous lines that you wanted to continue to offer in these new terminals?

CR: Our pillars are security, reliability, cost and services-enablement, so we built on those strengths as we incorporated cutting-edge technology and software application advances into the terminals. I’m really proud of the services-enablement aspect; we designed the hardware and software layers to be really nimble and forward-focused, so when new technology comes down the pipeline, these products are capable of supporting it. For example, the currency cassettes in our latest cash module are capable of supporting wireless communication to enable future fleet management systems within financial intuitions and across service providers as they evolve over the coming years.

DBD: After the initial proof of concepts were developed, you launched a large-scale international consumer survey with Lextant. Why go to those lengths?

CR: We really wanted to incorporate feedback directly from consumers — talk to them directly about their financial lives, how they interact with ATMs and in-branch technology, and find out from them, what they felt was most important. We surveyed consumers in China, Turkey, India and North America. The takeaways echoed some of the key drivers for us: safety, security, anytime-anywhere-anyhow access. We also used that survey to test some of our concepts, both with consumers and with tellers.  For example, we collected feedback on ourActivEdge card reader, and found out that users adapted very quickly to the new card orientation and were very accepting of the solution when they understood the security benefits.

DBD: What findings came out of those one-to-one tests with the early prototypes?

CR:  One example is related to currency cassettes. We had been testing the size of the cassettes that hold cash inside a self-service terminal. Based on the feedback from the tellers, we actually changed the position of the cassette to make it easier to access, and landed on a design that offers the largest capacity on the market, while still being a manageable size.

This topic often comes up in customer conversations. They see the new cassettes with the larger capacity and ask, are you sure these will be accepted by our employees?  Our response is simple: yes, we are sure … and here is the data from the user study that supports this conclusion.  Customers have been very pleased with the amount of time and diligence that has been spent understanding user behaviors.

DBD: Is there anything financial institutions might be surprised to learn about the research process?

CR: We really got into the nitty-gritty of how consumers access the terminals, and I think it’s important to drive that home. For example, our Industrial Designers are trained in ergonomics, so they were able to work with tellers and CIT drivers to design cassettes and interaction points that actually work much better than other products currently on the market. We even created full-scale mockups of drive-up ATMs to assess how convenient the terminals are, and used that research to design an interface where the cash dispenser, the card reader and the display are in much closer proximity. Now consumers in almost any type of vehicle have easy accessibility at the terminal.

DBD: From your point of view, what are some of the most exciting elements of these new terminals?

CR: One small change that makes a huge difference from a cost and reliability standpoint is the way we redesigned the cash module. ActivCash  features a shuttle that gathers and dispenses cash, enabling the stack to be presented at any point we choose in the user interface. That change offers more flexibility — it can be optimized for drive-up and walk-up consumer interactions, while maintaining commonality of parts. This design minimizes the distance that individual notes need to travel, and allows a contained stack of notes to travel inside the shuttle — thereby reducing the opportunities for errors, while enabling speed and efficiencies. Those kinds of advancements really are the hallmark of these new terminals and modules.