This column is not “A Bronx Tale.” But it is about two Bronx natives talking about what “digital natives” means for the future of metro Atlanta’s new Fortune 500 company.
NCR CEO Bill Nuti, who grew up in a north Bronx housing project not far from my boyhood home, uses terms like “digital immigrants and natives” to refer to the older and younger consumers who will determine the success or failure of his strategy.
I’ve never heard consumer adaptability to technology expressed that way, but I can certainly relate to the “immigrant” characterization. My son is light years more adept with technology than I am. It’s almost as if young people are born with high-tech gadgets as appendages.
But for Nuti (pronounced noo-tee) to succeed in trying to remake NCR into a growth company, he needs both generations – baby boomer and Y. He might as well add X and “The Greatest Generation,” too.
Getting more consumers to use NCR self-service technology in more business arenas is how Nuti hopes to reshape his Duluth-based company. That means more than what NCR already provides – ATMs for banks, checkout scanners for retailers and check-in kiosks for airlines.
It means, in part, expanding the use of entertainment kiosks the company is rolling out now.
Take Blockbuster movies. NCR is setting up kiosks in grocery stores where consumers can choose among 1,000 DVDs.
In the future, Nuti said, if a consumer wants to reserve a DVD before going to the kiosk, he or she will be able to do that on a Web site. And a text message to a consumer’s Blackberry or cell phone may offer discounts when the consumer arrives for the DVD, such as for purchasing soft drinks at the grocery store.
Nuti gets excited describing the above scene – one consumer engaged in more than one purchase, using more than one form of technology – with NCR at the center of it.
“Self-service is a movement. It’s not a fad,” Nuti, 46, said. “Our goal is to have multi-channel, self-service solutions.”
Of course, competitors in each of those channels are thinking about similar game plans, so it remains to be seen how much growth Nuti can propel beyond the current $5 billion in revenue.
During the interview, it became apparent that his strategy directly relates to his controversial decision to move the company’s headquarters to Duluth after 125 years in Dayton.
Loyalty to the Ohio community took a back seat to the interests of shareholders, whom he said can look forward to tens of millions of dollars in long-term cost savings in Georgia.
“It would be disingenuous not to mention the package of incentives,” Nuti said. Government incentives added up to more than $100 million for NCR to move its headquarters here and an ATM plant to Columbus.
Key to the Georgia move, Nuti said, were several factors beyond the incentives and cost-savings. They included Hartsfield-Jackson (two-thirds of NCR’s revenue comes from outside the U.S.), the wide availability of skilled labor and high-caliber universities, such as Georgia Tech and UGA.
For a high-tech company, Nuti said, establishing a long-term relationship with Georgia Tech can be very important for gaining valuable research and talent.
Searching for greener pastures is not new to Nuti. At 14, he left our beloved Bronx for Long Island.
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