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Kroger debuts Retail Site Intelligence, new enterprise IT architecture

BY Dan Berthiaume

Cincinnati – The Kroger Co. is collaborating with EInfochips and Wincor-Nixdorf to introduce a new enterprise IT architecture called Retail Site Intelligence (RSI). The architecture uses uses ZigBee wireless mesh networks to integrate long battery life sensors, handheld devices, point-of-sale devices and video management software into a next-generation platform for retail applications such as loss prevention, store automation and analytics.

The introduction of the RSI architecture, and the deployment of new retail business solutions by Kroger, culminates two years of global collaboration between Kroger and EInfochips to develop the underlying technology solutions. The results of this phase of development are new wireless devices, including cameras, scanners and scales, featuring ZigBee wireless technology, and Vigil360, a new video management software kernel designed specifically for RSI.

In an exclusive interview with Chain Store Age, Dion Perkins, R&D engineer for Kroger, said the ultimate goal of RSI is to make the shopping experience better for the customer while using the proliferation of Bluetooth and WiFi technology to reduce infrastructure costs.

“Store solutions are costly if deployed individually,” said Perkins. “We use cameras with a ZigBee radio interface that handle the security aspect and video analytics. They can also enable queue management and mobile shopping, and serve as temperature sensors. The cost of ongoing maintenance is lower with lower complexity and a simplified environment.”

Commercial versions of the RSI solutions being piloted by Kroger will be available later in 2014 with support and customization services delivered globally.

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Cardtronics extends ATM relationship with Walgreens

BY Marianne Wilson

Houston — Cardtronics, the world’s largest retail ATM owner, has extended its ATM services agreement with Walgreens. Cardtronics is a preferred provider of ATM services for Walgreens. Since the relationship began in 2004, Cardtronics has grown its ATM presence in Walgreens locations significantly — from fewer than 400 initially to roughly 3,250 today.

The company is also the exclusive ATM provider for Walgreens in many states across the nation. 
Along with the relationship renewal, Cardtronics will support the new Walgreens Balance Financial prepaid program. Balance Financial cardholders can access their cash, surcharge-free, by using the ATMs at Walgreens stores.

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Survey: Application support holds significant savings potential

BY Dan Berthiaume

Sunnyvale, Calif. – Application support and maintenance (ASM) may hold potential to deliver $6.8 billion in savings to Fortune 2000 organizations. According to a survey of 300 U.S. and U.K. CIOs released by IT services provider HCL Technologies Ltd., ASM now accounts for 38% of large organizations’ overall IT budget each year.

Based on the IT expenditure of Fortune 2000 companies this equates to $11.3 million per organization annually. Furthermore, 83% of respondents stated that the cost of maintaining and supporting these applications was increasing year on year, while during the last 12 months organizations have on average seen a 29% increase in support tickets for ASM.

IT departments are also finding it increasingly difficult to prioritize application problems and/or service requests. About nine in 10 (88%) of the large enterprises surveyed admitted they found prioritization a challenge. At the same time, with IT underpinning a number of business functions, 90% of respondents said that resource and skills restraints were making it difficult to align business and IT objectives. Only a small percentage (14%) of organizations stated they have mapped business benefit from IT.

“ASM represents a disproportionately large proportion of IT spend,” said Vijay B. Iyer, senior VP global head of applications outsourcing, HCL Technologites. ”Many organizations are struggling to meet users’ heightened expectations of application performance, which in turn is leading to a growing number of support tickets. With the need to drive greater efficiencies and business value from IT, organizations can no longer allow their current ASM functions to stagnate. By taking a more proactive and efficient approach they can free up capital that could be allocated towards more innovative transformational projects.”

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