At Dialexa, we bring you thought leadership straight from the leaders themselves. Don’t just take our word on what’s innovative across technology, business and leadership, read it for yourself in the Technology Leaders series. This month, we’re covering the omnichannel topic.

Darren Dayley is an innovative Information Technology Executive with both travel/transportation and retail industry experience. Having most recently served as the Vice President, Enterprise Strategy & Program Management at GameStop. Darren has hands on experience in business transformation to increase the value of technology through better alignment, improved allocation of resources and increasing insight into the cost of technology.

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Dialexa: Darren Dayley formally with GameStop and before that you were with…

Darren: Southwest Airlines.

Dialexa: Southwest Airlines. And before that, you were with American Airlines?

Darren: Yes, and Sabre

Dialexa: You focused heavily in the aviation industry and always in the technology field - how did you get started?

Darren: So there are three things that I can recall that led me to IT. First, I am a pong kid; I started playing video games around age 7. I’ve always wanted to know how video games worked, I still don’t know, but it was a driver. Second, at age 14, I went to my guidance counselor and asked for a salary sheet. I didn’t want to be any of the first three occupations listed - airplane pilot, doctor, or lawyer - so, #4 was it, System Analyst. Finally, the last thing was I mentioned my planned career choice to a computer professional, and he gave me the impression he thought I couldn’t do it. Being the type “A” person that I am, I took his challenge. 

Dialexa: The topic this month is omnichannel. How did you see the omnichannel experience in the aviation industry and then in the gaming industry?

Darren: In the aviation industry, it is easier to talk about the customer experience. When I joined Southwest, their many channels - airports, call centers, mobile, website - operated independently. As you interacted with each channel you could receive different answers. For example, a customer could get a different refund at each channel. So we built a single set of backend capabilities to provide the same experience, regardless of channel. Moving forward as we developed and improved functionality, we would put that functionality into every one of the channels unless it just didn’t make sense, e.g. printing bag tags at home, but you could even see doing that these days perhaps. 

Dialexa: And how did you see omnichannel develop in gaming?

Darren: Initially, GameStop created a separate digital group outside of IT, a common practice. This has a benefit of speed to market, but can result in developed capabilities, and even backend systems, that are completely separate and different. So again, you have a different experience between channels - brick-and-mortar and the online.

Next, the prevailing thought was how the company could serve the customer. As opposed to how the customer wants to be served by the company. I think that’s a key transition in thought that companies must make - there are so many ways to interact with a company from a customer’s perspective, it's not just mobile apps and websites. Many people, who have a lot of money, simply will not interact through technology but prefer a personal, human touch. To earn their dollars, we must empower sales associates with technology to facilitate reaching out with that human touch. Tools that remember the customer’s likes and dislikes, how often they want to be contacted, whether they’re happy getting a text and just responding with “yes, buy it now”, things like that.

GameStop has taken great, innovative strides in developing multiple channel to allow it’s customers to interact in a myriad of ways.

Dialexa: That’s a good segue into our next question - in your experience, how has mobile changed the way businesses interact with customers in person versus online? 

Darren: First I’d like to comment on how you phrased the question, “how companies interact with customers”. I believe companies must shift their thoughts to “how customers want to interact with the company”. At Gamestop, we shifted to “customer based design”, working with customers and finding out how they want to interact, versus assuming we know how they want to be treated. Because we don’t.

A second thought, a bit off topic, is that technology has become very powerful. A quote from Peter Parker’s (Spiderman) Uncle Ben, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” We have the technology now to be able to know where people spend their entire day (e.g. shopping at other stores, where they ate, what they looked at on the web/mobile) before they come into a store. The question is just because we can, should we? 

Dialexa: In aviation, what did you see with omnichannel and what is the future of technology look like in this field?

Darren: Technology has evolved a lot in 4 years, so much more is feasible. What were future technology trends then are the reality of today. I worked with an airfare pricing company that was acquired by Google. With that transaction, I could see a day where you could ask for directions and would be presented with both driving and flight options, with a fare. That future dream is now a reality, go to Google Maps and type “Dallas to Salt Lake City” and see what you get. Ultimately, the best experience, and where I would like to see the future of omnichannel technology head towards, would be an app that managed my entire travel experience. e.g. I receive a prompt to leave a bit early because the TSA lines are unusually long, I drive to the airport, my parking place is stored in my phone, I walk up to a kiosk and bump my phone (NFC) and my bag tags, selected at booking, auto print and I self-tag my bag tags, I clear security and board with my watch/phone and fly. Upon landing I get a watch/phone notification informing me of which direction to go to get to my baggage claim, and an alert letting me know that a Uber car has been requested for me and will be waiting for me as I exit, then finish up with directions provided to me directing me to my appointment or hotel, with an auto-check-in. This makes it easy for me to take my trip.

Dialexa: Yes! And, how else would you like to see technology evolve in this field in the future? 

Darren: Advances beyond that would include auto-rescheduling my flight if my meeting has run too late to make my original flight - just notify me what plane I’m going to be on. If the meeting has run over, this is important to me. I don’t want to be worried about calling around to re-book, I want traveling to be an easy experience for me - remove stress from my life.  

 

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