Windows CE vs Windows NT
Which System is Better?
After returning from World War II in 1946, Truett Cathy opened a restaurant, Dwarf Grill, in Hapeville, GA. The opening of this facility later lead to unimaginable success with the pioneering of the second largest chicken based fast food restaurant in the United States, Chick-Fil-A. Chick-Fil-A initially began as a quick service fast food provider mainly located in shopping mall areas; however, as of July 2006, it now has over 1,300 locations in 37 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Although Chick-Fil-A’s historical roots were planted in shopping malls, a great deal of the company’s growth has been directly connected to freestanding units, drive-through only locations, and airports. Chick-Fil-A has a unique distinction from other fast food providers due to its foundation of Christian principals, which are evident in its corporate purpose that reads: “To glorify god by being a faithful steward to all which is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-Fil-A.” Many fast food providers operate on Sundays, just as any other day of the week; however, Chick-Fil-A is does not operate on Sundays, which support the morals and values of the company.
Chick-fil-A has a very large presence in the fast food industry, which can be directly linked to their commitment to its Critical Success Factors (CSF’s). The Critical Success Factors of Chick-Fil-A are geared to stimulate satisfied customers, brand and sales development, motivated and effective people, and financial return. These particular focal points were designed to directly correlate with its vision and stated mission. Another part of Chick-Fil-A’s excellence is due to their current point of sales system (POS). These systems mainly serve as the primary location or device where transactions are completed between sales representatives and customers. Although serving as the transaction tool for most companies, a point of sales system may also be responsible for other functions such as training, assisting in the production of daily reports, suggestive selling, and transferring orders to the kitchen display system and back office server. The company is now faced with the task of replacing its POS due to their current operation system provider, Gemini, deciding to no longer produce its erasable programmable read-only memory (EPROM) based POS.
Mike Erbrick, Director of Restaurant Information Systems, along with key employees of other departments such as Jon Bridges, Vice President of Information System and CIO, has now been assigned to convert the company’s current point of sales system to a more updated version. This team carefully identified and confirmed the business and technological problems that would be faced when replacing Chick-Fil-A’s current point of sales system. There was a determination of the necessities that would be needed in a new operating system, as well as the physical capabilities that would also be required. One of the capabilities needed would be an easy to learn, user friendly, POS that would support rising trends such as self-service customers and credit card use. Touch screen capability would be vital in a replacement point of sales system as well as effective data synchronizing for interaction with the operating systems housed at Chick-Fil-A headquarters. With the effectiveness of this particular feature, special promotions offered by headquarters or price and menu changes would accurately reflect on each POS to reduce employee error. Suggestive selling, which prompts employees to question customers on other items found on the menu such as larger drinks or desserts, would also be a needed as this would boost the company’s sales. To again touch base on the physical capabilities of a replacement POS, the system would have to endure heavy grease and high levels of heat. In the case of system failure, Mike Ebrick, along with his team felt that the replacement POS should be resilient and able to reboot quickly if needed. Although Chick-Fil-A did have a level of concern with personal Internet usage, Internet and Intranet capabilities were desired in a new POS.
One of the options explored as a possible replacement for Chick-Fil-A’s dated point of sale terminal was Windows NT, which is also produced by Gemini. This particular operating system, known as the intelligent POS, supported touch screen technology, provided 2 gigabytes of storage, and allowed each POS visual display unit to have its own Pentium processor. Windows NT could support training videos that would assist in labor issues or allow new employees to be trained both quickly and effectively. This system provided touch screen technology and also implemented the use of many colors on its display screen. Windows NT addressed concerns communicated by Chick-Fil-A to have a resilient system or the ability to maintain important information if the company were ever faced with system failure. This system could easily be rebooted between two to four minutes and hold weeks worth of information, which would rid the POS to be dependent on the network. A variety of programs could be integrated with Windows NT and it also provided Internet as well as Intranet support. The cost of implementing Windows NT would be approximately $40,000 dollars per store.
The other option explored as a possible replacement for the dated point of sale system was Windows CE. This system is similar to Windows NT in many ways, but with minimal features. This system used less color, and supported training videos, which addressed the user friendly and easy to learn approach Chic-Fil-A was seeking. If there was a server failure, the system could stand alone holding 6 hours of data, without affecting the kitchen display system, and reboot in 45 seconds. Windows CE would allow updates to come directly from headquarters to the back office server. From there, the manger must enter a code to send the updates to the POS systems. The system costs between $30,000 and $35,000, and it is not too expensive to maintain. Finally, the system allows for minimal applications, but it does provide Internet and Intranet.
After thorough review of the two options, it appears Windows CE is possibly the best choice for Chic-Fil-A. The system requires only those with authorization to make changes and decisions, and it does not allow any heavy processing, which minimizes the chances of employees using the systems for personal use. Windows CE is user friendly, provides touch screen technology, and training can be performed on the POS. This allows Chic-Fil-A to quickly train its employees, making it easier for employees to complete their task in a timely fashion. The system is also able to operate on its own, and quickly reboot when the server fails, which also supports Chic-Fil-A’s goal to be fast in providing service to its customers. The system costs less than the alternative, and there are plenty of capable and competent Information Systems workers available to maintain and repair the system if needed. Finally, the Windows CE system is also used for PDAs, which could be good for Chic-Fil-A’s future advancement opportunities