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Made in Canada - used anywhere

by Richard Bray

Everywhere in the world that US armed forces personnel and their families are stationed, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) can be found providing retail stores of every kind - complete shopping centers, gas stations and convenience stores.

And everywhere AAFES goes, Point of Sale (POS) software, maintenance and help desk support from Toronto-based Triversity Inc. goes too. AAFES and Triversity have just signed a five-year, multi-million dollar deal that extends and broadens a relationship that dates back to an initial installation in 1995.

With almost eight million customers and more than 10,000 locations around the world, AAFES is a major customer for Triversity's product line, which has grown to include Point of Interaction (POI) and wireless technology software. Using Triversity products, the retailer can provide consistent customer interaction, whether the customer is at a cash register, a kiosk, Internet terminal or, in the near future, being served anywhere in the store using "lane buster" or mobile POS wireless technology.

Triversity's vice-president for corporate marketing, Greg Bandler, explains that the company was offering the right software at the right time in the early '90s when computer hardware, including POS terminals, became a commodity item and retailers were starting to look for software that would run on any platform.

"We were partnered with NCR at the time," Bandler says. "AAFES resisted signing a single vendor for all their hardware requirements. They wanted software that allowed multiple hardware platforms. We were one of the very few vendors with a product that could run on a truly open platform, so we could integrate to NCR, IBM or anything else."

Hardware flexibility was one selling point and configurability was another. "We could run the same applications in their 20-lane grocery stores as in their 40-lane mass merchandise stores, as well as in their two-lane convenience stores," Bandler explains. "We were able to demonstrate how to configure the same application to those various self-contained environments throughout the world, dealing with multiple countries and multiple currencies." AAFES has deployed it in 15 countries around the world. AAFES head office personnel can configure Triversity software using a common set of business rules to meet a variety of retail situations.

The Triversity-AAFES relationship has broadened beyond the Canadian company's POS/POI products. Bandler explains that when AAFES put forward a requirement for 24-hour, seven-day-a-week help desk support for its various hardware platforms as well as its software, Triversity made the necessary investment in people, training and equipment and won the work.

Richard Bray is an Ottawa-based freelance writer specializing in the IT sector. He has been published in magazines and newspapers in Australia, the United States and Canada and is now editor of Ottawa Computes. Before freelancing, he worked as a producer, reporter and senior writer for CBC in Toronto.



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