Who’d have thought the company that Louis M. Brown, Jr., began in 1977 would become the market leader in hotel and restaurant systems? Certainly not Louis M. Brown, Jr. The current board chairman is the first to admit that it wasn’t in the game plan to become so big so soon. But it happened. MICROS Systems, Inc., employs more than 2,300 people worldwide, and its 2000 revenues topped $359 million.
In 1977, the company made electronic cash registers, early restaurant technology that helped to usher in the age of automatic record-keeping systems. The scope of the operation has expanded dramatically since then. MICROS Systems supplies the software that makes sure that your favorite restaurant gives you the correct food and the correct bill. It also provides restaurant management with inventory data, automatic pricing and various other transaction controls.
A New Direction
Property management software comes into the story with the acquisition of Fidelio in the mid-1990s, a software developer providing systems to hotels across Europe and Asia. The German company (it started as a hotel, incidentally) complemented the core skills of MICROS Systems, Inc., and in a little more than an eye blink, MICROS-Fidelio automated hotel front desk operations as well as restaurant procedures. The company has kept its concentration on the hospitality industry.
MICROS Systems’ restaurant division is based Columbia, Md., a suburb of Baltimore and Washington. The Maryland facility also serves as corporate headquarters, housing Tom Giannopoulos, the president and chief executive officer. Research and development for the restaurant division, the backbone of any software supplier, is done here as well as major account sales and the customer call center. The MICROS-Fidelio hotel division conducts its research and development from its Naples, Fla., location.
Integration — the Operative Word
Integration is key in both divisions. Company officers speak with pride regarding the integrated service that is provided for all their clients. While the narrow focus of the competition forces a back-office integration by the customer, of a variety of parts of the whole, MICROS-Fidelio’s total spectrum of services allows a front-end integration, delivering everything – hardware, software, service and support – in one package. On the hotel side of the business, MICROS-Fidelio, in addition to developing much of its own software, partners with other software developers – the best in the business – and then packages the pieces together for delivery. The restaurant division, on the other hand, develops the software itself and integrates the systems while still on the drawing board. The synergism saves time, money and aggravation, and the client is well served.
MICROS also supplies the hardware designed to meet the customer’s needs. The hospitality industry demands hardware that is designed to withstand the adverse environmental conditions of the industry (high usage rates, grease, smoke, heat, etc.) and continue to function with high reliability. SCI Systems Inc., rated 261st on the Fortune 500 as a leading U.S. and international electronics manufacturing services provider, designs and manufactures the MICROS point-of-sale hardware to MICROS’ specs. Sharp Electronics Corp., long recognized as a leader in flat-panel technology, provides SCI the active and passive displays used in the MICROS PC workstations. Hewlett-Packard Company, which partnered with MICROS this year as MICROS’ preferred provider of personal computers and servers, provides IT systems that are used as the operational backbones. Epson America, Inc., recognized as a leading point-of-sale printer manufacturer, provides the MICROS proprietary IDN printers and provides SCI with the mechanisms for the slip and roll printers. APG Cash Drawers®, a long-standing MICROS partner, provides cash drawers and tills to support the various POS products. Wyle® Electronics, also a long-standing MICROS partner, provides system integration services and incorporates a MICROS proprietary LCC (local cluster controller) board into a computer system for the 8700 product. Rainbow Technologies, Inc., a company known for its software security keys, provides keys for the various MICROS POS systems. The MICROS Distribution Center, located in Beltsville, Md., uses Danzas AEI Intercontinental, a world leader in transportation, as one of its integrated logistics service providers.
The company divides the markets into two segments, major accounts and independents. On the hotel side of the business, the major-accounts sales organization approaches the larger chains, such as Marriott or Wyndham. Another sales group markets to the smaller independent hotel and motel groups, where there may be as few as one or two hotels involved. On the restaurant side, the major-accounts sales group focuses on the multi-unit chains – like Ruby Tuesday® or the TGI Fridays® restaurants, for instance. There is also a direct distribution channel that is staffed by MICROS employees who target the smaller, high-volume restaurant establishments. In addition, the company uses authorized resellers around the world.
On an international level MICROS Systems is a major presence, with more than 120,000 systems in place in 130 countries. Property management systems and central reservation and customer information solutions can be found in more than 10,000 hotels worldwide. Sales efforts are multichanneled, depending upon the country. While the majority of sales are direct, in some of the smaller nations, distributors do the work.
Linked to the Web
The future is linked to technology and to the Internet. Already on the cutting edge, MICROS Systems futurists see the application service provider concept custom-made for their operations. While point-of-sale transactions will always remain on site, the back-office services could be leased to the users, accessing the software through the Internet. MICROS Systems is partnering with USinternetworking, Inc., of Annapolis, Md., to provide several management software applications via the Internet. USi’s facility will offer a secure application-accessing opportunity to the hospitality industry, virtually free from the possibility of a system breakdown because of sophisticated backup methods. The advantages to the users are myriad: no ongoing maintenance, no ongoing software installation and no outdated software, to name only a few.
To its customers – the independent and the chain restaurants, the hotels and motels, the resorts and the casinos, the theme parks and the stadiums – MICROS Systems offers this view of its mission: to develop advanced applications for the hospitality industry that are fully integrated to increase efficiency, that reduce operating costs and that elevate the level of service provided to customers. Mission accomplished.