Microsoft Announces Intranet and Extranet Business Process Automation Solution for Franchise Industry

REDMOND, Wash., April 22, 1997 — Microsoft Corp. today announced a comprehensive, scalable intranet and extranet solution for the franchise industry, enabling franchisers and their licensees to increase productivity, efficiency and cost savings by automating all information sharing and distribution processes currently delivered through conventional distribution methods. (An extranet provides secure, external access to an intranet.) More than 100 franchisers representing approximately 37,000 small-business franchise licensees attended yesterday’s Franchise of the Future event at the Microsoft corporate campus. Some of the largest franchisers in the world attended, including Marriott International Inc. and Mail Boxes Etc. (MBE), demonstrating their support for the intranet and extranet initiative.

“Microsoft’s intranet and extranet technology provides a strong solution for us, and we believe it will result in increased productivity and high return on investment,” said Mike Pusateri, vice president, interactive sales and marketing at Marriott International. “What is particularly important to us is that the franchise solution takes full advantage of our existing infrastructure, which includes the Microsoft® Windows NT® Server operating system and Internet Information Server, and takes that technology even further by customizing it to meet the specific needs we have as a franchise organization.”

“The ability for franchisers to communicate smarter and faster while providing franchise licensee services at a lower cost is more critical than ever,” said Roger Gerdes, business development manager, small business group at Microsoft Corp. “Microsoft has developed a scalable intranet and extranet solution that enables franchise systems of all sizes to meet constantly changing communications and information distribution demands and remain competitive in today’s global marketplace.”

Revolutionizing Business Processes

Microsoft’s franchise intranet and extranet solution automates all of the information sharing and distribution processes currently delivered by the majority of franchises through conventional mediums such as telephone, fax and U.S. mail. Benefits provided by the franchise intranet and extranet solution are as follows:

  • Reduces costs associated with internal and external business transactions, such as paper materials, printing and postage, as well as saving time.

  • Enhances communication and information distribution capabilities, enabling franchisers and licensees to easily search and browse large databases and bulletin boards containing the latest news and information from all aspects of the company, including sales, marketing, human resources, legal and finance. By implementing intranet applications, franchise licensees are empowered to seek out and access the information they need most. Franchises will also receive ongoing syndicated content feeds specific to their industry.

  • Streamlines business processes, such as report generation, order placement, fulfillment, personnel information and database management.

  • Provides secure, interactive communication between corporate headquarters and franchise licensees through the use of Internet technology such as chat forums. With an intranet, franchisers and licensees have instant access to the latest resources and information, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Licensees are able to increase interaction with customers and increase sales during business hours, with the option to handle administrative operations such as product ordering and sales tracking when convenient.

Top-Name Franchisers Move to the Internet

Marriott International Inc. is the world’s leading hospitality company, with approximately 4,700 operating units in the United States and 30 other countries and territories, including 572 franchise hotels. Major business segments include hotel franchises, vacation resorts, food services and facilities management and distribution, senior living communities, and service. Marriott International is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has approximately 192,000 employees. For the fiscal 1996 year, the company reported total sales of $10.2 billion.

Marriott International is currently developing and deploying a Microsoft intranet and extranet solution that provides employees and business partners with valuable tools and information. The solution will enable users to instantly access and respond online to resources such as jobs listings, directories, and corporate and departmental libraries.

“Courtyard by Marriott believes that our internal intranet services and our extranet services to franchisees will revolutionize how knowledge and experience are captured and shared throughout the organization,” said Craig Lambert, brand vice president, Courtyard by Marriott. “This is just the beginning for Marriott International, in terms of leveraging and extending the vast informational resources we have developed over the years.”

Mail Boxes Etc., the world’s largest franchiser of neighborhood retail service centers with more than 3,300 centers worldwide, specializes in postal, business and communications services. Mail Boxes Etc. is in the process of providing customers a host of Internet products conveniently and affordably, based on Microsoft Internet platform technologies. With these products and services, Mail Boxes Etc. customers will be able to purchase Internet-based e-mail accounts for worldwide use, send and receive e-mail messages, access the Internet, and download information and files. Taken together, MBE refers to this suite of computer-based services as electronic-MBE or, more succinctly, e-MBE.

“To continue providing world-class services to our center owners, we realized the need to automate the process currently used to deliver and share information with them,” said Jim Amos, president and COO of Mail Boxes Etc. “We share Microsoft’s vision for building Internet communities that enable franchise licensees to easily communicate with other members of a franchise network, as well as have real-time access to the information they need to run their business more efficiently.”

Scalable, Robust Technology Solution

In addition to addressing the business objectives of a franchise, Microsoft has built an intranet and extranet solution that addresses the issues of openness, scalability and reliability. The solution is based on Windows NT Server 4.0, Microsoft SQL Server
6.5, Microsoft Exchange Server 5.0, Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS), Microsoft Commercial Internet System, Microsoft ActiveX
technologies and the Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 Web browser, featuring the latest in push technology.

Microsoft Solution Providers are independent companies that have teamed with Microsoft to provide technology solutions for organizations of all sizes in many industries. They will work with franchisers to develop, implement and support a customized intranet and extranet solution. Microsoft Solution Providers use the Microsoft Solutions Platform of products as building blocks for customized solutions and offer various value-added services, such as integration, consulting, software customization, development of turnkey applications, technical training and support.

Creating Internet Communities

The franchise intranet and extranet initiative developed to bring small businesses onto the Internet is just one of many Microsoft small-business programs designed to develop and promote Internet communities. Microsoft recently implemented a similar program called the Association Network, designed to bring small-business professional communities online by providing a complete, inexpensive turnkey Internet solution. The Association Network gives professional associations the tools to use the Internet to provide educational materials, networking opportunities, advocacy support, research and more to their members.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft, Windows NT and ActiveX are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners. Note to editors : If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages

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