• February 7, 2011
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

The Next Killer App

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I must admit that, while I’ve noticed more 2D bar codes in advertisements, they have not inspired me to download a 2D bar code reader. And, although it seems fun, I certainly never played QR Kill—a laser tag-like game in which players on the street shoot strangers with bar codes taped to their backs.

However, in preparation for this month’s cover story, I downloaded a 2D bar code reader for my Android smartphone. I needed to make sure that our live 2D bar code image on page 21 would work. (Feel free to check it out yourself. Simply download a free 2D bar code reader from your mobile application store or market from your smartphone and snap a picture of the tag. Doing so will enable you to see how 2D bar codes work. Plus, you can read the story online and comment on it.) After I played with the bar code reader, I was mildly enthused by the technology’s ability to bridge the gap between print and digital publishing. However, what’s more exciting is the technology’s potential.

Shortly after downloading the bar code reader, I downloaded another application on my Android, called “MyFitnessPal,” which is basically a digital calorie counter. (I need to shed a few.) The application took some physical information about me, enabled me to input a target weight-loss goal, and determined the maximum number of calories I could consume each day to help me lose weight. I can search for nutritional information in its food database of more than 635,000 items or enter it manually.

I was pleased to discover that the application stores my commonly consumed foods, so I don’t have to re-enter all the nutritional information every time I eat (although that extra step would be an incentive to eat less). I was even more pleased to discover that the application includes a bar code reader that lets me scan bar codes on food packaging for nutritional information. It’s pretty neat.
Now I can see why so many people are excited about this technology and experimenting with ways to incorporate it into their businesses. For examples of how some organizations are already using 2D bar codes, read our cover story, “Betting on Bar Codes,” by Editorial Assistant Koa Beck.

Smartphone sales will continue to grow, which will help bar code adoption. This presents a compelling opportunity for organizations looking to communicate with mobile customers. And, because the technology is so inexpensive for companies to use and free to customers, it’s worth investigating.

Actually, that’s what we’re doing. We aim to explore some opportunities for 2D bar codes at our upcoming CRM Evolution conference (August 8–10, 2011) at the New York City Hilton. If you’ve had some success with this technology at your organization or you have a great idea that you’d like to share, feel free to email it.

As for me, now that I have a 2D bar code reader, I’m perfectly willing to scan the next tag that I see. So, look out, anyone who comes near me with a bar code on his back must ask himself one question: “Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”

David Myron is editorial director of CRM magazine. He can be reached at dmyron@destinationCRM.com.

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