Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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1/30/2008
05:08 PM
Tom LaSusa
Tom LaSusa
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Web 2.0 Gone Awry: Tracking A Pizza Online?

Alert! Alert! Useless implementation of Web 2.0 Technology in progress. Alert!

Alert! Alert! Useless implementation of Web 2.0 Technology in progress. Alert!Across the country, bleary-eyed teens and college students -- strung out from late-night Guitar Hero III marathons -- will no longer have the added worry of wondering when their Domino's pizza will be delivered. The company has debuted a new system which allows the pizza purchaser to track an order -- from the moment it's taken through preparation, baking, boxing, and delivery. This "Pizza Tracking Service" (implemented within 3,400 Domino's and in all franchises by June) is accurate up to 40 seconds.

First off -- and I'm trying really hard not to be cruel here -- does anyone still order Domino's pizza anymore? Last time I had one of its (ahem) food products was in college. Back then I was 97% certain that the cardboard was used for both the delivery boxes and the dough. The meat on top of the pie looked like the pellets you'd clean out of a rabbit cage, and the sauce probably never saw a tomato in its life. But hey, if the quality has improved since then, bon appétit. Digression aside, this bit of tech usage gravitates into the "is this really necessary?" category. Seriously, you already know the Domino's mantra -- pizza delivered somewhere in the 30-minute time frame (little old ladies crossing the street be damned). No one can be that truly desperate/starving that they need to know the exact moment the pepperoni slices are being applied ... can they?

Chris McGlothlin, technology chief at Domino's, seems to think there's plenty of anxious customers out there. "It's an emotional roller-coaster when you order," McGlothlin says. "Customers wonder: Did they get my order? Are they taking care of me? Will it show up?"

Call me old-fashioned, but the method I've been using to track my pizza orders has had a fairly high success rate. It's called "pick up the phone, call the pizza place, and say 'Hey, where the heck's that pizza I ordered a half-hour ago?' "

Now to be fair, the new Pizza Tracker also lets the user rate the experience -- the quality of the food, the delivery time, and the courtesy of the order taker and delivery person, all with the goal of improving customer service and quality. Again, nothing that the use of a telephone or online customer service form/e-mail address hasn't allowed before.

Last year, Domino's implemented pizza ordering via text messaging in the U.K. -- again, a strange implementation of tech. Wouldn't dialing the pizza joint be a lot faster than punching in the order on your BlackBerry?

I'm reminded of a few years back when early Web page designers learned a whole bunch of "nifty tricks" (music, animations, etc.) and plastered their sites with them. After the initial cool factor wore off, most folks agreed that using new technology for the sake of using it does not always make a better product. IT pros preparing to implement Web 2.0 apps should really take that to heart. Before adding a new tool to the site, ask yourself, "Is this really going to improve the quality of my user's experience, or are we just adding a bunch of bells and whistles because we can?"

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