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Azure Service, Ma’am – Starbucks Pours More Into Connections With Azure

When it comes to coffee shops, it’s safe to say that everyone is familiar with Starbucks. For years, they have been at the top of the corporate coffee chain, and it’s obvious why. They are always coming up with innovative ways to modernize their products. “Everything we do in technology is centered around the customer connection in the store, the human connection, one person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time,” stated Starbuck’s Executive Vice President, Gerri Martin-Flickinger. That being said, it completely makes sense as to why Starbucks has formed a partnership with Microsoft to enhance their customer experiences, increase quality, and provide transparency.

Sharing Stories Through Blockchain 

Blockchain is known as a system that can modify people’s perception on data, contracts, and assets. Azure Blockchain is a way to customize one’s blockchain network infrastructure while keeping cost in mind at the same time. Four key features of Azure Blockchain are:

  1. Deploy fully managed blockchain networks in a few simple clicks
  2. Govern at scale with built-in governance and codeless consortia management
  3. Offload blockchain network management so you can focus on application logic
  4. Build blockchain apps with confidence using the dev tools you love and the apps you rely on today

Starbucks has found success with this technology by teaching their customers about where their coffee is grown. From packaging details to tasting notes, the real-time trace-ability provides more transparency than ever. Supply Chain participants can track the location of their coffee and watch the transformation process from beginning to end.

How Azure Blockchain Provides Value to a Business:

Starbucks has always made it known that they care about ethical sourcing, but now, with Azure Blockchain, they are taking their efforts to another level. Coffee farmers can now notate where their coffee beans are going right after they sell them. All individuals are able to view each status change that is recorded to a shared ledger. This provides all parties with a more complete view of their products’ journey, which can provide value to any business in several different industries.

Farmers can track their coffee beans from beginning to end.

Making Personalized Recommendations for Customers

Through Reinforcement Learning Technology, Starbucks has been able to provide a personalized experience for customers through their mobile app. Instead of having to scroll through several pages of options, users can receive tailor-made order suggestions that are built and hosted through Microsoft Azure. Active rewards members are sent specific food and drink items based on previous orders, best-sellers, weather, and time of day. The intelligence within the app is allowing Starbucks to get to know their customers better. Soon, a similar experience is going to occur at the drive-thru. Recommended items will be populated on the screen based on store transaction histories. “Just like their relationship with a barista, customers receive the same care and personalized recommendations when it comes from our digital platforms”, explained Senior Vice President of Starbucks Analytics and Market Research, Jon Francis.

How Reinforcement Learning Technology Provides Value to a Business:

For Starbucks, this leads to happier patrons. Receiving advice on what to order based on previous purchase history, will make anyone’s day. Reinforcement learning may be driven by a machine, but in the end, it adds a personal touch to a customer’s experience. Many industries can benefit from these insights, especially if they are trying to strengthen the connection with their clientele.

Customers receive personal recommendations through the Starbucks mobile app.

Implementing IoT Across Equipment Store Wide

Being a coffee shop open 16 hours a day, Starbucks needs reliable equipment. If a machine does not operate properly, that could lead to a loss in sales, and extra repair costs. To solve this problem, Starbucks has teamed up with Microsoft to deploy Azure Sphere. This purpose of this solution is to secure the IoT, or internet of things, devices across all store equipment. The IoT enabled machines have the potential of generating more than 5 megabytes of data in one eight-hour shift. Each machine can collect data points, including temperature and water quality. Also developed by Microsoft, the guardian module works to connect equipment to the Azure Sphere. This ensures that data is secured, and proactively determines whether a machine will have a problem. This solution also allows Starbucks to send new recipes directly to machines, which saves a ton of effort and time. Stores will automatically receive the updates, rather than having to physically visit 30,000 locations.

How IoT Provides Value to a Business:

Azure Sphere is changing the game for Starbucks. They are moving away from a reactive business model and running towards a proactive one. Soon, the company will be looking into inventory management and supply ordering, which will potentially be handled by Azure Sphere. Companies can utilize this powerful solution to lower costs as well as solve problems before they occur.

IoT enabled machines can proactively detect if there will be a problem.

Overall, the effects that Microsoft Azure has had on Starbucks this far are spectacular. If Starbucks has been able to benefit this greatly from this solution, there is no doubt that several other corporations will too. Microsoft Azure, the cloud one can trust, is currently being used by 95% of Fortune 500 companies – and it is obvious why.

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