From End User To Enterprise: Providing Total Solutions
$129 million systems integrator and software developer Radiant Systems, Inc. provides enterprise-wide solutions that reach out and touch customers.
There have been some changes since Business Solutions first profiled Radiant Systems, Inc. in its August 1998 issue. The company's revenues are up, from $78 million in 1998, to almost $130 million today. Approximately 250 additional employees have joined Radiant Systems in the past 18 months. An additional 500 new employees will be added by the end of the year. Radiant Systems has consolidated its Atlanta operations in a state-of-the-art office complex. The company's stock soared 500% last year. And recently, Radiant Systems entered into an agreement with America Online (AOL) to provide consumer interactive services. There is also new leadership – Andy Heyman is now president of Radiant Systems. With all of this growth and change, Radiant Systems remains firmly entrenched in select vertical markets – petroleum/convenience stores, hospitality, entertainment, and automotive care. It's a formula for success that Heyman isn't changing.
While Heyman is new in his position, he's not new to Radiant Systems. He's been with the company since 1996, having served as executive vice president, global solutions.
"We are proud to provide solutions, rather than simply products, to our clients," says Heyman. "I'm referring to combinations of hardware, software, business intelligence, marketplace, and ongoing services that solve business problems. We have a wide variety of technologies available that work well together. With these, we can provide the right solution for customers' needs. Although we concentrate on four different markets, 70% of the core features and functions are the same across the board."
The Best Place In The World To Work
Prior to going public in 1996, Radiant Systems' biggest restraint was cash, according to Heyman. "With the IPO, we now have the financial stability to focus on growth." One of Heyman's objectives is to make Radiant Systems "the best place in the world to work."
Admittedly a lofty goal, Radiant Systems has invested in its future by developing a new corporate campus in Alpharetta, GA, outside of Atlanta. The company is housed in a 110,000-square-foot building. Later this year, Radiant Systems will build a three-story, 75,000-square-foot building on land adjacent to its headquarters.
Attracting top talent is a challenge. Radiant Systems offers its employees, in addition to salary and benefits, the asthetics of an updated office park. The Radiant Systems headquarters features a gym and an employee cafeteria decorated to resemble a 1950s diner. A group of Radiant Systems employees formed a rock band that performs at company functions.
"We want to build a sense of community with the Atlanta area," says Heyman. "The company is also committed to supporting education and the point of sale (POS) industry." In addition to its investment in the Atlanta area, Radiant Systems invests in education through donations to select colleges and universities.
Investing In End User Behavior
"We also invest in technology to improve our products, as well as to benefit our industry," notes Heyman. "Putting money into R&D enables us to offer the latest technology and more innovative products." Part of Radiant Systems' R&D includes researching how end users, such as convenience store customers, react to and use technology. As a result, the company has developed "digital retail" solutions, incorporating kiosks and the Internet. The AOL agreement typifies how the Internet is impacting Radiant Systems' key markets. Radiant Systems will provide consumer interactive POS devices, enabling consumers to receive e-mail and other real-time Internet information while pumping gas or waiting for pizzas.
Practical Applications For Kiosks
"We are seeing an increased demand for technology that directly interacts with consumers in each of our vertical markets," says Chris Lybeer, VP of strategic development for Radiant Systems. "There are several reasons for this. First, consumers are becoming more comfortable using technology. Second, there is a labor shortage in every retail market. Retailers now have a goal to complete transactions with a high level of service without employee intervention. Third, more transactions are taking place over the Internet, and kiosks are an efficient means of capturing or finalizing those transactions."
Radiant Systems has deployed POS systems, including kiosks, in thousands of fuel service stations, convenience stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Even beyond those markets Radiant Systems has found strategic opportunities for kiosks. "Cosmetics retailer Sephora uses our kiosk solution in its stores, giving consumers access to its product information," says Lybeer. "Using a Web tool, cosmetic suppliers update the kiosk information seasonally as products change. The cosmetic manufacturers benefit by directly reaching consumers while they shop."
Radiant Systems has also successfully rolled out kiosk solutions in hundreds of movie theaters in the past 18 months. "Patrons purchase tickets from the kiosks instead of waiting in line at the box office," explains Lybeer. "Tickets can also be ordered over the phone and online to be picked up at will-call windows."
Convenience stores are using kiosks to boost food sales. "Foodservice is becoming a larger portion of convenience store sales," notes Lybeer. "We are rolling out kiosks that allow customers to order food, such as made-to-order sandwiches."
Radiant Systems solutions are not designed just to make end users' lives easier. Solutions in each market incorporate back office management systems that enable stores, theaters, and restaurants to manage inventory and labor. Radiant Systems decision support systems help corporate offices communicate with their sites and their vendors, as well as manage their promotion and pricing activities.
Communication: The Trickle-Down Theory
Beyond products and services, Heyman says it's people that will ultimately make the difference. "Our founders (Erez and Alon Goren) are technologists," says Heyman. "So we've historically been a very technology-driven company. Bringing new people into our company brings fresh perspectives and additional skills to our ranks."
Despite the company's growth, Heyman strives to keep information flowing at all levels. "Communication is so important, but it's challenging," he admits. "It's especially true when things are moving as fast as they do for an e-business company like ours. I rely heavily on our directors and managers to talk with their employee teams on a regular basis, in both formal and informal settings. Our managers are likely to be sharing information with their teams of 10 to 15 people at a weekly status meeting, a basketball game, or a social gathering outside of work."
Radiant Systems' formula for success is obviously working under Heyman's leadership. Don't you wish you'd have bought stock in the company!
Questions about this article? E-mail the author at LisaK@corrypub.com.