Stephen Lavin, SVP Corporate Information Technology outlines how Outerwall is leveraging the IoT for differentiation and competitive edge

CIO Strategy Meeting, August 22-23, 2016, Chicago



  1. How successful has Outerwall been in adopting the IOT?

From our perspective, very successful and we still have much more to achieve. Our earliest phases over the past few years in the mobile space have served us very well. Every kiosk we operate (and there are about 65,000 of them) could be classified as “things” and have been leveraging IoT technologies for the last 16 plus years. The maturity and technology cycle in the marketplace has of course taken off, exploded, and has become much more mature, sophisticated and valuable to brands that leverage this well. Look, you cannot take a red box kiosk around with you in your pocket, bag like you can your smartphone, or tablet but you can extend kiosks convenience and engagement value for your customers.

There was a recent article for example published on ( that captures the redbox brand and a small success sample we have had with mobile engagement in building relationships with our customers. We have leveraged the experience economy with redbox ® (movie and video game rental kiosks) and Gazelle ® (electronic reCommerce services) mobile apps most effectively and with our other brands; Coinstar® coin-counting kiosks, ecoATM® device-recycling kiosks.

  1. What are your key priorities in the next 12-18 months?

Concerning IoT and in the product and technology space, we are going to push for increased consumer customization; push more context and relevant values to our customers particularly those at redbox. We will also be re-imagining our businesses, continue to transform our core to digital, and challenge buy versus build models a little more. We will continue successfully to answer to the dynamics of the business, meet the changes in secular demand, and will be managing an increase in analysis on consumer probabilistic behaviors. Conducting real-time transactions of any kind at the edge (closest to the customer) is critical to success in my opinion. Our customers are king and we want to delight them.

  1. How is Outerwall preparing for the IoT?

As mentioned above we are already “here”. There is a challenge however keeping up with change and it is happening rapidly. We are investing in people and talent, data acquisition, proximity and location based services, and our digital enterprise transformation. I think for us the question is really; “how is Outerwall leveraging the IoT for differentiation and competitive edge”?

  1. In your view, what will be the critical factors in embracing the opportunities of IoT and ensuring the security of your data?

I am going to split this into two questions; firstly, what will be the critical factors in embracing the opportunities of IoT? The desire to change the way you think about your business if you have not already. Every business will be touched, in some way, by mobility and intelligent smaller (ever increasingly it seems) devices. There exists a bit of chaos in the space now and this presents opportunity for the astute. If you do not move to digital and IoT, and your competition does, this will spell trouble for you if you are in a competitive marketplace or channel. We are moving rapidly to a want it now, get it now society (globally), and consumers will not wait. Those consumers that will wait will eventually age-out over time; staying put makes little sense. This may be one of the times where I personally might suggest that tried and true does not beat new and improved every time. So, in my view get:

  • A mobile strategy (internal and external to your business)
  • A core transformation to digital
  • Educated on how to leverage analytics, as it would make sense for your business. Hint; be proactive not simply reactive.
  • Insights into your customers, as many and as often as you can
  • Started now if you have not already

Secondly, on security, it is paramount in trust relationships with consumers (you already know it is important to your business to be secure) so if you do not have sufficient security measures and/or protective measures in-place I urge you to cover these bases. Businesses are different. Some are PCI compliant, many have PII concerns, some businesses are private while others are public and have compliance needs (we do not want to confuse being compliant with any particular standard as meaning the same as you are “secure”). I think it would be irresponsible of me to suggest all business types should approach security of data the same way; just suffice it to say you may want to invest in security methods and models that are robust, tested often, and change with demands of shareholders, partners, customers, and the technology and compliance landscape(s).

  1. How would you define your success?

Ultimately by delighting our customers and shareholders. There is little more I can say outside of this. An IoT portfolio will have winners and losers, lost leaders, and grand slams. Being willing to constantly test and learn; make it a way of life, a way of conducting your product and technology innovations will bring successes, and if you’re lucky some failures too (just fail fast J).

  1. Why have you decided to join us at the CIO Strategy meeting and what would you like to share at the meeting?

I do not get out with my peers enough it seems over the past couple of years and that needs to change. In addition, I enjoy very much being in the company of those passionate about technology and enabling business. Great CIO’s and technology leaders create value. Great technology leaders know that it is not just about the technology, it is about business performance and positive outcomes. I want to be associated with these kinds of leaders and I find that in groups like the NCS Madison CIO Strategy events we can be rather selfless, share our learnings, insights, and general experiences so we can all benefit. I never stop learning from others in this space and I can only hope to help anyone I can any way I can.

Thank you for your time.