DULUTH, Ga. – NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) announced today that as part of its accelerated growth strategy it is creating a new global partner program, which will span its industry sectors for the first time on a global basis.
NCR is focusing on building a world class channel infrastructure by investing in channel partner enablement and program development to complement its direct sales force and meet demand for its self-service and assisted-service solutions in both mature and emerging markets.
The new NCR Interact Global Partner Program will enable channel partners to earn designations as NCR Authorized, Advanced or Premier solution providers. This will be dependent on their core competencies, sales and IT staff coverage, completion of technology specialization certifications and infrastructure investments, which could include test lab facilities, training, certification and demo equipment. In turn, resellers will gain access to a full set of channel-ready solutions and marketing programs, helping them to differentiate their brands and deliver greater value to their customers.
Greg Cahoe president of QSI Inc., an NCR solutions provider based in Kentucky, and a member of the newly appointed NCR Global Partner Advisory Board, said, “By investing in channel program development, NCR is showing its partner community its commitment to our success. We’re excited about the structure of their new global program, which will help us differentiate our brand, build sales momentum and add value to our customers.”
David Wilkinson, NCR’s vice president of global channel sales, commented, “Our new indirect channel strategy is truly game changing for NCR and our channel partners. We have company-wide commitment to the new program structure that will help us drive consistency, accelerate global implementation and deliver mutual value and profitable growth for our partner community, NCR and our joint customers.”
NCR has designed the new channel program following an extensive benchmarking and consultation process with analyst groups, leading resellers and the management consultancy firm Channel Enablers. The program will be implemented over the next 18 months with channel partners gaining accreditation to the new designations and specialization areas as these are rolled out on a global basis.
Braham Shnider, chief executive officer at Channel Enablers, said, “NCR has taken a truly innovative approach to designing a completely new channel infrastructure, benchmarking best practices, identifying areas of innovation and consulting with its partner community. This places NCR and its channel partners in a strong position as they capitalize on market opportunities in both mature and emerging markets.”
About NCR Corporation
NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) is a global technology company leading how the world connects, interacts and transacts with business. NCR’s assisted- and self-service solutions and comprehensive support services address the needs of retail, financial, travel, healthcare, hospitality, entertainment, gaming, public sector, telecom carrier and equipment segments in more than 100 countries. NCR (www.ncr.com) is headquartered in Duluth, Georgia.
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October 6, 2011
NCR today announced the NCR Netkey Loyalty Kiosk, a loyalty and offer management solution that helps retailers extend the reach of frequent shopper programs quickly and consistently across channels, such as inside the store, online or via mobile devices.
The solution consists of a self-service kiosk combined with the NCR Netkey management software. It enables consumers to manage their frequent shopper program and access personalized offers and informational material. They have the option to print out materials, such as recipes and promotions, directly at the kiosk, transfer coupons to their loyalty card or have offers sent to their mobile device.
The NCR Netkey management software is the first to bring together in-store digital advertising and self-service kiosks under a single platform, enabling retailers to leverage rich multimedia content across digital signs and kiosks. For example, retailers could opt to use digital advertising to promote their frequent shopper program and then make it easy for shoppers to enroll at self-service kiosks.
"Kiosks provide an opportunity to implement promotional campaigns and targeted discounts for consumers -- 54 percent of the consumers we spoke with are interested in using in-store kiosks where they can download coupons when they walk in," said the independent research report 'Consumer Usage Of Kiosks And Self-Service Checkout Tools,' Forrester Research, Inc., December, 2009. The report continues, "In-store kiosks, when implemented correctly, can provide a seamless transition between the brick-and-mortar stores and the Web site," and, "In-store interactions with these technologies are an opportunity to track behavior across channels for a fuller view of the customer."
The NCR Netkey Loyalty Kiosk rapidly integrates with a retailer's existing loyalty or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, extending the functionality of existing business software and safeguarding technology investments. Retailers can also easily add new applications to the loyalty kiosk in order to provide additional self-service functionality, such as store maps, product finders and the ability to purchase gift cards.
"A new generation of consumers craves more personalization and control over when and how they interact with retailers," said Dusty Lutz, general manager of NCR Netkey digital signage and kiosk applications. "Consumers are willing to reward retailers that enable a seamless, converged channel experience across Web, store or mobile channels. Retailers are responding by evaluating technology solutions that help them interact with shoppers based on their individual preferences and location to create a more compelling shopping experience."
The new kiosk is one of NCR's c-tailing(TM) solutions, a set of software and services that enable retailers to offer consumers greater personalization and consistency across channels, such as the Internet, mobile devices, social media and in the store. These converged retailing solutions enable retailers to differentiate themselves, lower operating costs and attract today's empowered and elusive consumer. Additional information on the NCR c-tailing solutions can be found at: http://www.ncr.com/c-tailing.
About NCR Corporation
NCR Corporation (NCR 12.23, +0.03, +0.25%) is a global technology company leading how the world connects, interacts and transacts with business. NCR's assisted- and self-service solutions and comprehensive support services address the needs of retail, financial, travel, healthcare, hospitality, entertainment, gaming and public sector organizations in more than 100 countries. NCR (www.ncr.com) is headquartered in Duluth, Georgia.
NCR is a trademark of NCR Corporation in the United States and other countries.
SOURCE: NCR Corporation
Cameron Smith, 770-623-7998
The hospitality industry has seen a spurt in self-service applications over the last five years. Hotel companies have worked diligently to give their guests the ability to conduct transactions by themselves using kiosks, the Internet and telephone.
These initiatives are helping drive two key benefits—empowering guests by giving them control over their destiny, and, at the same time, providing cost savings for hotels by freeing up employees to focus on value-added interactions instead of less valuable normal operational activities. However, these improvements in guest processing are oftentimes disjointed, leaving the industry with the need to ascertain how to best present a seamless experience regardless of the guest interaction channel. For instance, core sets of capabilities should be present in all channels, while at the same time self-service interactions should be transparent and visible across channels, otherwise guest frustration is likely to ensue.
A Multichannel View of Self Service
No different from other enterprise applications, self-service capabilities have evolved to take advantage of advancements in technology that deliver new features and functionality and provide even greater benefits to guests. For instance, the increased availability of mobile devices with Internet browsing capabilities has opened up a new service channel that offers guests the potential to book reservations, check in and out of their hotel rooms, obtain property information, view bills, etc., all while on the go and without requiring direct access to their personal computers. The proliferation of smart phones such as BlackBerry, iPhone and others clearly highlights how important this new channel is likely to be. Given that the pace of innovation and technology adoption is only accelerating, it is crucial for leading enterprises to put in place self-service strategies that both encourage and enable the adoption of new delivery channels as they start gaining popularity among users.
Traditionally, different self-service channels have fallen under the purview of different organizations within the enterprise. For instance, whereas the Web channel is typically managed above property by a central marketing organization, the kiosk channel is usually administered on-property by individual hotel staff. As a result, there is a strong tendency for individual channels to be developed independently of one another, reflecting the priorities of the organizations that own them. This leads to inconsistent functionality across channels, delays in bringing new functionality to market, and a higher overall cost of ownership.
The underlying benefit of looking at self service from a multichannel point of view is the possibility of delivering a seamless customer experience across the many different channels and touch points that a guest interacts with. In our always-connected environment, guest satisfaction is tied to the enterprise’s ability to have customers interact with it in a unified manner. There is nothing more frustrating to a guest than having to provide the exact same information multiple times to different people in different places. In a multichannel world, applications are built on a unified platform with common business rules and shared components. Rules, processes and data are shared across channels and remain consistent no matter the touch point, ensuring a uniform experience regardless of the guest’s chosen mode of interaction.
Multichannel Best Practices
Through the experience of developing solutions for the travel industry, IBM has been able to identify various key best practices in multichannel application development that have been incorporated into the reference architecture shown below. Key among them is the ability to build a common business logic layer that provides a services-based interface upon which channels can operate. Using SOA (services-oriented architecture) methodologies and tools, the business layer is designed to provide a common view into enterprise systems and abstract away the complexities inherent within them. Providing a well-defined interface that is built around business processes rather than system boundaries allows for rapid application development and encourages increased business logic reuse across channels.
Another integral component of successful multichannel implementations is the use of lightweight and highly configurable development frameworks. While each channel provides a unique experience, they are nonetheless all following the same overall workflow. As such, many flow control and data entry/retrieval components share common features. These frameworks allow many of these components to be re-purposed from one channel to another with virtually no new development required. As a result, while channels are able to retain their independence from one another, they are nevertheless still able to fully leverage their common features.
Finally, it is critical to recognize and embrace the unique aspects of each channel to provide a superb user experience. The abilities and limitations of each channel provide both a challenge and an opportunity for differentiation. For instance, while mobile devices are not optimal for entering large amounts of data, they are at the same time a personal extension of their owners. As such, personal preferences can be stored directly on the device itself, allowing for it to be retrieved automatically without requiring the guest to type them in. Similarly, the Web channel offers the ability to provide value-added services that personalize the interaction and enhance the guest experience. New technologies like AJAX and FLEX provide the ability to build rich Internet applications (RIA) that can deliver functionality not conceivable before, such as dynamic and multimedia floor plans that are true to physical layout and reflect real-time inventory. Hilton’s Homewood Suites’ Web-based interactive hotel floor plan for room selection is an example.
Challenges Faced by Multichannel Deployments
Employing a seamless multichannel experience is not without its challenges. Some effort will be required to ensure that the differences between the channels are accounted for (e.g., mobile has a smaller form factor compared to a Web site). As a result, hotel companies will need to make changes to existing self-service applications and business processes in order to support a seamless multichannel vision, for example a common enterprise PMS with an XML interface that permits data exchange. In some cases, a fundamental shift in operations will be required. Several illustrative changes that hotels will have to consider are described in the table above.
Self-service solutions have helped hotel companies provide enhanced service to their guests. Now it is time for them to take advantage of advancements in technology and bring maturity to multichannel self service. Benefits include a consistent experience regardless of the interaction channel employed by the guest, seamless transfer of information across channels, re-usable assets that will lower the total cost of ownership, and cross-channel transaction transparency. Multichannel solutions will allow hotel companies to extend newer levels of service and functionality to their guests and raise the quality of their experiences and satisfaction.
Alon Kronenberg (firstname.lastname@example.org) is practice leader, mobile applications, and lead architect, Innovation Center, IBM Canada. Amitava Chatterjee, CHTP, (email@example.com) an IBM-certified managing consultant with IBM Global Business Services, based in Fairfax, Va., is a frequent author, industry speaker and member of HFTP’s HITEC Advisory Council.