In June of last year, Panasonic Information Systems, a division of Panasonic System Solutions Company (www.panasonic.com/pos), expanded its presence in the QSR and hospitality markets with the introduction of purpose-built stand, alone software, geared for independent hospitality operators. The software was designed specifically to help the smaller business operation stay on the leading edge of operational technology without a large back-of-house investment.
IBM debuted A Consumer Services (www.ibm.com) Initiative late last September responding to results of an Opinion Research Corporation survey that showed a 50 percent growth in the use of self-service technology over the previous year. According to the survey, 70 percent of respondents expect businesses to offer more self-service options. The IBM initiative has a mission of delivering new technologies and services, a new line of self checkout systems, enhanced systems management capabilities, and a services practice focused on delivering customer-facing solutions.
IBM also introduced the Self Service Alliance program, intended to drive innovation and create new uses for self-service technologies through collaboration and standards-based technologies. One of the Initiative's first products was the AnyPlace Kiosk ultra-compact self-service product line with built-in wireless capabilities. Other elements of the initiative include:
- IBM Remote Management Agent (RMA): Available as a free download on the Web for use with all IBM Retail hardware, including POS systems, self checkouts, mobile tablets, kiosks and retail printers, the RMA allows retailers to achieve end-to-end store system management of retail devices and applications along side traditional IT deployment. Retailers can configure and monitor the system remotely, distribute software, track assets and determine and diagnose problems.
- New Cashless Self Checkout Models: Improved IBM ergonomic design and enhanced features allow retailers the flexibility to match end user payment habits to an individual store. Retailers have the option of deploying cash or cashless models, or both, depending on the purchasing demographics of the store.
Radiant Systems, Inc. acquired Quest Retail Technology in December of 2007 in a move intended to strengthen its presence in the stadium, park and arena marketplace. The acquisition will also help Radiant (www.radiantsystems.com) expand its installed terminal base. Headquartered in Adelaide, Australia with North American headquarters in Denver, Colorado, Quest has approximately 57,000 terminals installed in more than 5,000 sites throughout 20 countries. Quest's solutions (www.quest.com.au) operate many of the largest major league stadiums, parks and arenas in the U.S. and Australia, including Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field, and the Staples Center.
- Green Design and Manufacturing: IBM self-service systems are built to help companies expand and upgrade for a long life cycle, which can translate into companies disposing of fewer obsolete products. IBM self-service products also contain no paints in their material finishes, using powder coating for metal and impregnated color for plastic to help reduce harmful emissions that may occur in the painting processes. The IBM worldwide packaging engineering team strives to use materials with recycled content and common shipping methods to help optimize the sustainability of packaging materials.
Sharp Electronics' POS division inked a deal with XProtean, Inc. (www.xprotean.com) in February of this year, under which Sharp (http://www.sharpusa.com) will bundle XProtean's Quick Serve Restaurant Industry Solution with Sharp's UP-X500 point-of-sale system, an integrated, open-systems platform supporting Windows XP. The agreement allows XProtean and Sharp to collaborate on new product developments designed for the hospitality and retail industries in the U.S.