Q. What do you get when a technology giant joins forces with a coffee giant?
A. Better delivery on every cup of coffee.
In the announcement, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella applauded the collaboration between Starbucks’ software engineers and its business side. Nadella cited Starbucks as one of many examples of a consistent theme: increased hiring of software engineers at companies outside the industry that are embracing high tech solutions. “They are coming together to completely take what is that iconic experience that is Starbucks and incorporating digital throughout,” Nadella said.
Some of the projects the two companies are collaborating on are:
1. Predictive drive-thru ordering:
If you’ve been using the Starbucks app, you know that it already gives plenty of recommendations based on your order history. Now, the company will take this a step further by incorporating the technology to the drive-thru, with digital boards that will recommend orders for you.
This is currently being tested at the company’s Tryer Center innovation hub in Seattle, and the technology and software will rely on store transaction histories and more than 400 other store-level criteria, such as inventory, time of day and weather. Microsoft said at the convention that the goal is to eventually let customers opt into more personalized drive-thru recommendations.
2. Connected coffee-makers:
When you have 30,000 stores with a lot of machinery working 16 hours a day, every day and at high volume, maintenance of all equipment becomes quite the task.
Starbucks aims to simplify and streamline this process. It is already using several Azure cloud products to connect and secure the more than a dozen pieces of equipment in each of its stores. Starbucks’ IoT-enabled machines collect more than a dozen data points for every shot of espresso pulled, including the type of beans, the temperature of a cup of coffee and water quality. Connecting all of its machines to the cloud will allow Starbucks to more rapidly update its menu.
3. Bean to cup blockchain:
Microsoft just announced the launch of its new Azure Blockchain Service last week, and the tech giant is already putting it to good use in the partnership with Starbucks.
With this initiative, the idea is to ultimately connect coffee drinkers with coffee farmers, who can potentially then take advantage of new financial opportunities. Customers will also be able to use the Starbucks mobile app to trace the journey of their coffee from the farm where the beans originate, all the way to their cup. This will add to the already amazing coffee experience that Starbucks provides. Starbucks said it worked with more than 380,000 coffee bean farms last year and promised to open source the pilot program and share what it learns.
With these amazing initiatives in place, we can soon witness a new era in fast food serving restaurants and stores.