Company: XcelleNetCustomer: Burger KingSubmitted by: MCC InternationalDate: September 2000The busy lifestyle that characterised the 1990s shows no signs of abating as the 21st century gathers steam. We work, play, eat and drink at a quicker pace than ever before. It’s hardly surprising that fast food is one of the most buoyant industries in the retail sector.As we queue in droves for our hamburgers, sandwiches and meals-to-go, few of us are aware of the extent to which a resilient underlying IT infrastructure enables vendors to respond quickly to our insatiable demand for traditional favourites and new promotions.Burger King, for example, has recently upgraded its entire electronic point of sale (EPoS) system in the UK. This optimises the flow of information within the company, helping it to monitor the performance of each individual outlet, assesses the success of new products and provides a more responsive service to customers who represent over 40% of its European market.
Since 1992, Burger King has used RemoteWare, XcelleNet’s retail polling and management solution, to gather sales information from its outlets on a daily basis. In 1998, when the company decided to standardise its infrastructure on Windows NT, introducing PC-based touch screen terminals in its restaurants, RemoteWare proved a logical solution for Burger King’s increasingly sophisticated polling and communications requirements.”73 of our 630 UK restaurants are owned by the company [the others are franchises] and we are responsible for exchanging information with these points of sale daily,” explains Andrew Neale, Burger King’s European technical infrastructure manager.”We had to decide how to evolve our communications infrastructure in a way that would scale up throughout the UK.
Following the lead of our US headquarters which uses the same PoS technology, we decided that RemoteWare was the best solution for our new configuration. In a sense, it had to happen. Our whole desktop environment had changed to NT, so it fitted in perfectly with our global strategy.”The new object-oriented approach gave us the flexibility and control we needed for the short and long term as we push increasing volumes of information around the company and need to control the flow between our restaurants and our head office at Uxbridge. RemoteWare also fell into our overall strategy of creating a European technical hub that could encompass our operations in Germany, Sweden and Spain.
“In the fast-food environment, the information gathered from the point of sale is about much more than basic sales figures. Burger King’s senior managers now have more efficient access to detailed information that allows them to analyse everything from speed of service to cash taken and stock control at each individual restaurant. RemoteWare is also used to distribute information about promotional campaigns, new products and price changes, and to gather payroll data so that staff salaries are paid accurately and on time.According to Neale, RemoteWare is an integral element of the company’s information flow processes. As a means of enabling daily contact between head office and local restaurants, it is a business-critical system.”As far as measuring profit and loss is concerned, it enables us to analyse how an individual restaurant is performing in terms of stock control and sales on a weekly basis,” he says.
“As far as flexibility is concerned, it allows us to react almost instantly to any changes in our business needs. We can provide our outlets with additional information quickly and simply. We can poll 18 sites at once. That means, for example, that we can gather all our payroll information from every restaurant in around 40 minutes.”As far as Burger King staff are concerned, RemoteWare is totally transparent. In the event of problems, remote terminals can be monitored while telephone support is provided. The remote control software is in-built and Neale and his team can watch what staff are doing on-screen simultaneously. Otherwise, according to Neale, they have no idea that it’s there.”They simply receive new information overnight,” he explains.
“We can now support them a lot better: the software is more efficient and feature-rich, which helps to make it a vehicle for immediate support. And that in turn allows them to be more efficient in serving their customers. It enables us to have all our technology resource in one place and we rarely have to send people out.”RemoteWare also helps Burger King to save time and money by distributing and installing software updates remotely, and carrying out remote diagnostics on local disk space, memory and network usage.According to Neale, automated polling is now so slick that he doesn’t need to worry about it any more.
The hit rate is well over 90% and corrupt data or interrupted communications are very rare. Any need for manual intervention is exceptional.”RemoteWare is flexible enough to allow us to upgrade applications or apply software patches at remote sites at our own pace,” he says. “We tend to upgrade our processes on a quarterly basis and this makes it very easy for us. In short, RemoteWare meets our needs for a smooth, reliable remote systems management infrastructure.”Without a solution like RemoteWare, he says, the impact on the business would be considerable: managers and restaurant staff would spend valuable time pushing paper-based information backwards and forwards; managers and suppliers would have to wait longer for essential information; and every information-based process would be costlier and more time-consuming.
“But it’s very reliable, easy to configure and control and highly efficient,” he says. “It doesn’t require a lot of support and the jobs just run automatically. That’s very important to us. We have two people looking after the restaurant systems, so we can’t afford to have anything that’s too cumbersome or demands a lot of intervention.”He concludes: “If it was unreliable, the business wouldn’t be able to control the restaurants.
And people wouldn’t get paid on time!”