A place between Home and the office

For the first time that I can recall, Fortune Magazine’s business person of the year and InformationWeek’s Chief of the year share the same employer.  Like this title blog infers, I am talking about the corporation that claims to be the third place between home and work, Starbucks.

Fortune magazine details the second coming of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Howard Shultz as nothing short of spectacular.  When you look at the stock price, a little under 10$ when he came back in 2008 to around 45$ (Dec-28-2011) it’s hard to disagree with Fortune’s conclusion. Could the use of new technology have anything to do with it?  I will let you decide.

Chief Information Officer, Mr. Stephen Gillett was selected as Chief of the year in the magazine InformationWeek.  I would recommend reading the December 12, 2011 article on that subject here (http://informationweek.com/news/global-cio/interviews/232200549)

For a while now, I have been very interested in the relationship between business and Information Technology.  I have been a proponent that IT should be present in the business process development and corporate strategy direction talks.  Why?  Simply because all business process are now digitized.  Therefore, technology is an essential part of the business strategy.  And just how did Starbucks make use of technology?

When you think about it, people who sit down at a Starbucks for coffee either do it because they want to read a book, that’s my case my favorite book store actually has a Starbucks in-house, or they want to do some work.  About 7 to 10 years ago, this meant that if you wanted the client to stay in your hospice you needed to provide something she or he needs on top of just a good cup of Java. A good way was to introduce free WiFi.  It still is a good way, and in many respects, it is expected that a coffee-house offers free WiFi.  I find myself being quite productive in such an environment, usually in between 2 meetings when it is too time consuming to go back to the office or home before the next meeting.  Having that internet connection is most definitely a big reason why I keep coming back.

So how do you wow clients these days?

Well the first thing is to realize that the client has changed. They are digital natives, meaning they were born post the invention of the common PC.  They are technology savvy even if they don’t work in IT.  To take advantage of that trend Starbucks now offers mobile payments that use 2D bar code scanners that make good use of their clients smart phone Starbucks app.  Just like I carry in my wallet a piece of the companies I deal with every day in the form of plastic, their digital cousins exist in the form of apps in my smart phone.  How wonderful is that!   Yes, I am aware that they probably tally big data bases of what my favorite coffee and snack is, but, so what?  If I get better service, and the clerk actually knows I usually take a single shot, skim milk, very hot latte and reminds me that I forgot to say skim milk, thank-you for that ‘relationship’, Mr. or Ms. Barista!

It’s important to realize that not just your clients are tech wizards; even the employees at Starbucks, for the most part young adults paying their way to higher education, are.  So, why not make good use of their technological skill?  Exactly what Starbucks did!  They offer Desktop virtualization and let their employees choose the best device they want to use for their work.

By know you probably have realized that technology is no longer an ‘ELITE’ sport.  The average person today knows a lot more about technology than just 5 years ago.  Remember, those days when we were using ‘Dumb’ phones?


Samy ‘TheBenz’ Benzekry


About TheBenz

Corporate IT guy very interested in all matters that are high tech.
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