Microsoft teams up with Starbucks on predictive drive-thru ordering and bean-to-cup blockchain – GeekWire

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella discusses the company’s work with Starbucks. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Starbucks is quickly becoming as much a tech company as a coffee company, but that hasn’t stopped its leadership from turning to a familiar Seattle ally to up its digital bonafides.

Today at Microsoft’s Build developers conference, the two companies ran down a series of initiatives they are working on together. The new projects include everything from using machine learning to gather customer preferences, to connecting coffeemakers in stores to the internet to blockchain services for tracing coffee.

Microsoft and Starbucks have teamed up before, and they have an established connection at the highest levels. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson is a former Microsoft executive who ran the worldwide sales and the Windows divisions before joining the coffee giant in 2015.

In introducing the latest fruits of the alliance, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella applauded the collaboration between Starbucks’ software engineers and its business side. Nadella cited Starbucks as one of many examples of a consistent theme: increased hiring of software engineers at companies outside the industry that are embracing high tech solutions.

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

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson(Starbucks Photo)

Here are a few of the innovations the two companies are working on:

Predictive drive-thru ordering: The Starbucks app already gives plenty of recommendations based order history. The company is extending that technology to the drive-thru, with digital boards that will make order recommendations.

Starbucks’ drive-thru technology, which is being tested in the company’s Tryer Center innovation hub in Seattle, doesn’t have the same luxury as the app’s detailed customer order history. But it will rely on store transaction histories and more…

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