Starbucks: Leading the way in Consumer-Facing Mobile Technology
A real strength of the Starbuck's mobile technology is their consumer facing mobile solutions, including mobile payments. Robert Teagle, EMEA IT Director, Starbucks explains the reasons behind their success and gives insight on how Starbucks has revised a significant amount of technology infrastructure, applications and solutions to provide a more productive foundation for their business partners.
Enterprise Mobility Exchange (EME): How has mobile technology helped Starbucks achieved best in breed customer service, increased operational efficiency and productivity?
Robert Teagle: Indeed, we've focused many of our efforts in the mobile space on providing solutions that are mostly consumer facing. With our main mobile application, we provide functionality such as Store Locator, Drink Builder, Coffee Knowledge and more recently functionality to support our Starbucks Card and Loyalty Program. The application allows customers to view their Starbucks Card balance, reload their card and pay using their mobile phone. The latter enables customers to leave their physical card at home, and use your mobile to do everything from managing their account to paying for their drinks. Therefore, this is really focused on providing an enhanced customer experience, and deploying solutions that are in line with customers technology expectations.
As it relates to mobile technology across the enterprise, we've invested in laptops to aid Store Managers in running their business; tablets to Field Sales and District Managers to improve their productivity and in virtual desktop technology. We want to provide options when it comes to technology for our employees; they can take a company standard laptop, tablet or smartphone or bring their own device but still run the corporate applications. We find productivity is improved when users feel comfortable with their technology and it suits their way of working. So the technology requirements are very different depending on whether you are an Accountant, Store Manager, HR Rep or an Executive.
EME: What would you say has been your greatest achievement at Starbucks to date?
Robert: I believe the level of technology change that we've embarked upon over the last 4 years is our greatest achievement. We've needed to revise a significant amount of our technology infrastructure, applications and solutions to provide a more productive foundation for our business partners. This has been from ERP, Point of Sale, CRM, BI, Mobile, Web, HR/Payroll etc. as well as taking in new technologies such as virtualization, Cloud and in the social and digital space. These types of investments are now the price of entry for any Global Enterprise to be successful.
EME: What have been your three biggest challenges to date?
Robert: Firstly, the evolution of technology and application within our business strategy. As technology develops, both in the consumer and business realms, there is the challenge of working with the business and identifying what technology can help with their business problems and strategies.
Secondly,a follow-on to point 1, is the immense amount of data that exists in the Enterprise and identifying what's useful and what's not. Particularly, in a retail environment where you are serving millions of customers a week; you not only have the transactional data, but also social commentary that could be associated with the visit. So we need to help the business identify what the key pieces of information are that drive business decisions and actions.
Lastly, the business environment, particularly at the macro level in EMEA, is providing a great amount of uncertainty to business leaders. For technology this means being flexible, adaptable and ensuring all technology projects deliver the stated benefits the business expects. Not only can technology help with managing the business fluctuations it can also be exploited to make the most of our customer interactions to deliver a high quality product and service at a time when consumers are more prudent about their purchasing choice.
EME: What do you think the solution provider community, enterprise mobility and beyond, can do to help you address these challenges?
Robert: We look for solution providers to do as their name suggests; and that's to deliver a solution to a complex business problem bringing technology and business insight to bear. I believe they should shorten cycle times and do something that perhaps the internal IT department can't deliver. In many ways we have an abundance of technology at hand, and it's the application of this technology that can help to solve business issues. Solution Providers are uniquely placed to help us exploit technology and deliver significant business benefits to the Enterprise.