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'Don't think too much about technology': EAT's IT chief on how to serve up successful projects

Interview: Sandwich chain tech chief on NFC, tablets and getting creative with tech...
EAT iPhone app

EAT is looking at building contactless technology into its mobile appPhoto: EAT

...think about the consumer the whole time.

"IT really has to understand all of that," said Batsford.

EAT's mobile hardware

When it comes to inhouse mobile kit, EAT has rolled out Android-powered HTC smartphones and Windows-based Acer tablets. Batsford said the company chose to go with Android smartphones because EAT uses Google Apps.

"There was a very clean, tight, neat fit between the two," he said, adding: "The total cost of ownership with Google is better than Windows. We use Google Enterprise a lot - particularly Google Docs and all the collaboration [features]. It's fantastic."

EAT's decision earlier this year to switch to Google Apps was driven by storage concerns, according to Batsford. "We felt that email was a commodity," he said, adding: "[Google Apps has] been an absolute success - 84 per cent of our storage capacity was taken up by email and we've put that up into the cloud and now we've got about 10 times the email capacity we had before."

On the tablet front, EAT has plumped for a Windows option, rather than staying with Android, as much of its IT system infrastructure is Microsoft-based, such as Microsoft SQL Server.

"We bought a lot of Acer Iconia W500s and they're going down a storm - they're really great," Batsford said. "We like the fact you can use the keyboard as a docking station."

Batsford has high hopes for future Microsoft mobile devices. "I really hope Microsoft get their act together with [the update to their Windows Phone OS] Mango.

"If Nokia can start building some really top-class smartphones [running Windows Phone] then I think you've got a very, very compelling couple of brands there and I think you'll see a lot of businesses look at that," he said.

The next iteration of Microsoft's desktop OS - the as yet unreleased Windows 8 - borrows some of the user interface styling from Windows Phone. "We're really excited about Windows 8," Batsford said. "That looks like it's going to be a phenomenon next year. It really does. I think that's going to be a game changer - as long as Microsoft can get the right hardware developers [for tablets].

"If you can get something that looks as good as an iPad but actually can give you more multifunctional use. I'm not convinced that the iPad is a brilliant business device - it's good, it's great for watching iPlayer but realistically it can't run Word, it can't run Excel, it can't run PowerPoint.

"If you asked any CIO or IT director what's the most used business tool within the business apart from your big ERP systems and all that, it's those three products."

EAT uses both smartphone and tablet devices to ensure field staff have access to not just email but other business-critical data such as business intelligence, reporting and analytics tools. It is currently in the process of rolling out a reporting tool called QlikView Business Discovery platform, which will draw in data from across its business functions and slice and dice it into various visual dashboards to enable real-time analysis of business processes.

"The whole point about having a BI [business intelligence] platform that delivers fast, precise information is it's actually like a call to action - you're able to do something about it," Batsford said. "If you're in our business which is beverages and food your sales are...

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