A Product Manager Goes to Norway

On a recent trip to Norway I saw a lot of (admittedly, pretty simple) automation. This didn't surprise me because Norwegians are very highly educated - and thus labor is expensive in Norway. The literacy rate is 100%, nearly 50% of adults have at least a bachelor's degree, and everyone - literally everyone - speaks perfect English, in addition to at least one other language.

As people become more and more educated, labor becomes more and more expensive. This means automation has gotta move on in; it's simple economics.

Here are 5 examples of (pretty simple, yet smart) automation I saw during my trip to Norway.

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1. Coffee-making

Humans do not make coffee in Norway. I mean, I'm sure they do somewhere in Norway, but not anywhere that I saw. Instead, variations of this spiffy machine appeared in the airport, in all of my hotels, and on the boat I took from the Arctic to southern Norway.

The coffee was, surprisingly, pretty good.

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2. Movie Tickets

The machine let you pick a movie, a time, and select seats. A lot of movie theaters in the States also have these types of machines now too, but the ones in Norway were over 6-feet tall, just like most Norwegians! I thought that was quite adorable.

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3. Hotel Taxi Kiosk

When labor is expensive, why would a human waste time calling a taxi for you? Oslo has Uber, but other cities (and towns) in Norway do not. And as a visitor, you probably don't want to download some local taxi app.

A simple solution? The taxi app is on an iPad in the hotel lobby, where you can call a taxi from the 'kiosk.' Easy, simple, and a great user experience. 

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4. The Front desk-less Hotel

In the city of Bergen, I stayed at a hotel called CityBox. I pre-paid online, and the hotel emailed me an entrance code. When I arrived at the hotel, I entered the code into a check-in machine, and got my room keys.

Even though a hotel 'host' is always somewhere in the building, I never talked to a human hotel staff member while I stayed (for two nights) at the hotel.

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5. The Concierge Kiosk

Most hotels don't have a  human concierge on call for the entire day. Rather, they have an iPad with tour information, and with which tourists can book tours straight from the iPad.

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Have you seen any examples of automation during a recent trip?