On Monday at Retail Systems ’98 in New Orleans, Steve Ballmer, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Microsoft and one of the world’s top software entrepreneurs, discussed the progress of Microsoft’s retail and supply chain efforts: ActiveStore and the Value Chain Initiative (VCI). He announced that Microsoft, Hewlett Packard and Tricon Global Restaurants (Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut) are taking a significant technological step toward realizing a solution to the number one technology headache for retailers – how to integrate new technologies and upgrade in-store solutions without jeopardizing existing technology investments.
Ballmer also announced an agreement between Microsoft and VenturCom, for Microsoft to license VenturCom’s Component Integrator tool, which is designed to deliver embedded solutions based on Windows NT. Microsoft’s goal is to ensure that future development on the NT operating system continues to support existing embedded systems in retail and other industries.
In addition, Ballmer assessed how current events in the computer industry affect retailers and their suppliers, explaining how Microsoft sees the computer industry evolving and how the company is positioned to lead the growth of on-line business-to-business and consumer selling.
Hewlett Packard and Tricon Global Restaurants Help Deploy ActiveStore
Integrating new technologies with disparate solutions and existing systems is a challenge many of today’s retailers face. Hardware and software systems from various vendors are not developed to work together, resulting in a headache for retailers seeking to integrate new systems with existing store-level systems. This can take years, increase costs, reduce choice and extend development time, ultimately detracting from the original goal of increasing the business value of information systems.
As a result, Microsoft and more than 500 leading retail companies are working together to develop the ActiveStore architecture, a component-based retail store-level framework that makes it easier for retail solutions from various vendors to work together. ActiveStore enables a true plug-and-play environment, so retailers can select best-of-breed components from any source, without the cost, risk or limitations of reliance on a single supplier.
This week Microsoft announced that Tricon Global Restaurants will become the first customer to implement the ActiveStore framework in its company-owned Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and Pizza Hut restaurants. Tricon also will offer the technology to its franchisees. In total, there are nearly 30,000 Tricon restaurants worldwide, receiving 25 million customer visits in 95 countries each day. That adds up to nine billion transactions a year that will benefit from the ActiveStore framework. Tricon, which initially contributed by outlining the key specifications for ActiveStore, has taken a proactive leadership role over the past 18 months to help drive the progress of the industry initiative and will continue to assist in its ongoing development.
In addition, Microsoft and Hewlett Packard announced the launch of the Hewlett Packard ActiveStore services program, which will help facilitate development of ActiveStore-compliant solutions for independent software vendors (ISVs). The program also will assist retail customers in deploying fully integrated ActiveStore environments around the world. Through the program, HP and Microsoft will establish ActiveStore compliance testing centers as well as integration centers worldwide. HP also will offer a number of solutions and services to help retailers take advantage of ActiveStore’s benefits.
Microsoft and VenturCom Agreement will Support Customers with Embedded Systems
Microsoft and VenturCom announced an agreement for Microsoft to license VenturCom’s Component Integrator product. Designed as a tool for deploying Microsoft Windows NT-based embedded solutions, Component Integrator makes it easier and faster for engineers to develop and deploy customized, embedded, or real-time applications based on Windows environments in a variety of industries, including retail.
With this agreement, Microsoft demonstrates its commitment to support the increasing needs of customers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) deploying embedded systems across a variety of vertical industries. Microsoft and VenturCom have a strong working relationship in delivering embedded solutions in the Windows environment to customers in many industries, including the retail market. As an extension of the companies’ existing relationship, the latest agreement gives Microsoft an opportunity to ensure future developments in its operating system will support specialized tools such as Component Integrator, various existing embedded applications on Windows NT, and the many customers who deploy them.