Does your company need an application that no software company sells? That’s no longer an excuse for failing to innovate, and more big companies are taking matters into their own hands.
Consider the example of high-end grocery chain Whole Foods, which Wednesday disclosed a partnership with cloud business software company Infor to rewrite the systems that underlie its entire supply chain. “The word on the street is everyone is selling the same food. Well, they ain’t,” Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb told Fortune. “I know there’s a difference. I want to communicate the difference and sell the difference, and we’re partnering with technology to do it.”
The system that these two companies are co-developing will capture hundreds of data points about each item. That information will be crucial not just for inventory management but also for food source traceability, which is a big deal for Whole Foods customers. Infor, for its part, gets a real-world laboratory in which to test software that it may eventually be able to sell to other retailers.
This is just the latest illustration of the notion that every business is becoming a technology company. Some companies, like Walmart, have hired their own in-house software experts to create new systems. Another notable illustration is Starbucks, known for its mobile application expertise. Others, like Whole Foods, are working closely with outside experts to reduce their risk exposure while being able to pretty much write the requirements for the project. I fully expect to hear about similar arrangements in the future.
TOP OF MIND
Want to get more girls involved in technology? Show them the money, and teach them to “play.” Xerox chairman and CEO Ursula Burns, and the U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith share their experiences at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C. Plus, here’s First Lady Michelle Obama’s advice: get more female business leaders directly involved in transforming the education system.
Apple faces $862 million fine in patent case. The technology in question is used in iPhones to improve chip efficiency, and the jury is about to determine the extent of the infringement. The patent in question was developed by the University of Wisconsin. (Reuters)
It will take at least eight banks to finance the Dell-EMC deal. The high degree of leverage could be a red flag for regulators. If the transaction fails, there’s a $2.5 billion termination clause. Meanwhile, Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman thinks the deal will create “chaos” that will help her enterprise sales team. But her counterpart at HP Inc., Dion Weisler, may still be interested in buying Dell’s personal computer business after the official HP split in November. (Fortune, Reuters)
Intel’s latest financials weren’t great, but its data center business is growing stronger. The unit reached $4.1 billion in sales for the chipmaker’s third quarter. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich attributes the expansion to business from cloud computing service providers that are building capacity at a rapid clip. (Fortune)
Oracle wins $50 million in lawsuit against software maintenance company. Rimini Street’s processes, which it has since changed, infringed on the software giant’s copyrights. The dispute isn’t over quite yet, though. (Computerworld)
Twitter cuts 8% of workforce. The restructuring was particularly “significant” in engineering, where newly permanent CEO Jack Dorsey seeks to accelerate innovation through fewer priorities. (Fortune)
Ginni Rometty: Forget digital—cognitive business is the future
IBM Chairman and CEO Ginni Rometty said that a new technological era is upon us, one that marries digital business with digital intelligence. It’s what’s known as cognitive business. “Digital is the wires, but digital intelligence, or artificial intelligence as some people call it, is about much more than that,” Rometty told Fortune Editor-in-Chief Alan Murray at the Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington, D.C. “This next decade is about how you combine those and become a cognitive business.”
BITS AND BYTES
Chipmaker SanDisk looking for a buyer? Possible suitors for the big flash-memory maker include Micron and Western Digital. (BloombergBusiness)
Cloud computing companies race to India. IBM, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services all have big plans for the market. (Fortune)
Swatch isn’t neutral on smartwatches. The world’s biggest watchmaker has released one in China. (Journal)
Google delivery drone watch. The company registered two new designs with the FAA. (Engadget)
Xerox expects first quarterly loss since 2010. It will take charges related to delays for digital healthcare projects in California and Montana. (Journal)
Morgan Stanley just raised its Apple earnings estimates. Here’s why. (Fortune)
Make sure the price is right. This startup just raised $48 million to help your team write better sales quotes. (Fortune)
Asking these questions will stop up to 90% of hacks by Kristen Bellstrom
Here’s what happens when you get in an Uber crash by Kia Kokalitcheva
Fore! How this company is using VR to self golf clubs by John Gaudiosi
Facebook will now inject videos directly into your bloodstream by Erin Griffith
ONE MORE THING
Temporarily out of stock. If you want to get Microsoft’s popular new Surface Book hybrid notebook-tablet computer quickly, don’t look on the company’s online store. (TechCrunch)