Starbucks (SBUX) announces blockchain collaboration with Microsoft (MSFT)

Starbucks has become the latest big name to sign up to a blockchain based platform to facilitate its business processes.

Following a report on the GeekWire site, it seems that the US-based coffee giant has partnered up with Microsoft to implement its Azure Blockchain Service to track coffee production. The data gathered from the use of the software will also be used to gain insights into customer preferences, as well as to connect coffee makers in stores to the internet, to blockchain services.

This is not the first time that Starbucks and Microsoft have teamed up, and the CEO of the coffee company, Kevin Johnson was actually an executive at Microsoft for a number of years, prior to changing roles.

CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella praised the new collaboration between the two companies, in particular the ability of Starbucks’ software engineers and its business acumen. He praised Starbucks as a good example of a company that thrives by hiring software engineers from companies outside the industry, to facilitate new and more high-tech ideas.

“They are coming together to completely take what is that iconic experience that is Starbucks and incorporating digital throughout,” Nadella said.

One of the innovations that the collaboration will be working on is predictive drive-thru ordering which will make order recommendations based on a customers order history. Whilst the Starbucks app already makes these recommendations, it is extending the technology to include digital boards at drive-thru locations. It will base these recommendations on transaction histories, inventory, time of day, weather and over 400 other criteria.

Azure will also be used to connect and secure equipment in all of Starbucks 30,000 stores. Coffee grinders, blenders, and of course, coffee machines will all be connected via the Internet of Things and will collect data for every espresso pulled, including type of bean, water quality, and temperature. By connecting these devices, Starbucks hopes to be able to be more proactive in terms of identifying glitches and breakdowns, therefore increasing customer service.

Lastly, its bean-to-cup blockchain programme will ultimately work by connecting coffee farmers with coffee drinkers who are then able to avail themselves of more financial opportunities. Customers will also be able to trace their cup of coffee from the farm where they originated, right to their cup.

Starbucks worked with over 380,000 coffee bean farms from Columbia to Rwanda, in 2018 alone.

The international coffee conglomerate also stated that they would make their pilot open source so that their findings could be shared and disseminated with others.

The Microsoft Azure Blockchain Service was announced on May 2nd as a blockchain-as-a-service platform that supports Quorum, the JPMorgan Ethereum-based platform.

Earlier in the week, it was reported that Starbucks could be set to accept Bitcoin payments following a deal with crypto-trading platform Bakkt.

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