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Industry News - December 10th 2010



Seattle Restaurant Ground Zero for Fraud Spree

Federal authorities now say a recent Seattle cyber attack was a much bigger crime than first believed, reports Linda McGlasson, managing editor for BankInfoSecurity.com. A U.S. Secret Service agent says more than 1,000 credit and debit cards may have been compromised.
The attack happened in late October, and the forensic trail leads overseas, officials say. Card data was stolen on Oct. 22 in a one-day attack by what authorities say for now was one hacker. The Seattle Capitol Hill area restaurant, Broadway Grill, appears to be ground zero for the attack. Secret Service agent Bob Kierstead of the Seattle Electronic Crimes Task Force says the overseas hacker who was able to access the network through Broadway Grill's system appears to have been able to leapfrog from the restaurant's access to a critical server in the transaction process, where account information was available.
The scheme appears to involve the sale or distribution of the stolen account information to numerous individuals across the country, as well as in foreign countries. Those individuals then used the information to make purchases against the consumer accounts. Authorities early in the investigation speculated that an organized crime group was involved


Study: What Motives Drive Social Media Brand Followers?

Empathica Inc., a provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions to some of the world’s most respected brands, recently announced the results of its latest Empathica Consumer Insights research. More than 15,000 Americans and Canadians responded to the survey that focused on consumers’ online habits and social media usage.
The study revealed that consumers were very willing to follow brands, though most reported doing so in order to find coupons or deals. Six in ten consumers indicated they follow at least one brand via a social network like Facebook or Twitter. Forty percent of people reported doing so in order to search for coupons or promotions while 30% cited the desire to browse for additional information.
While couponing and promotion hunting is a primary driver of social behavior, the survey also found this habit was driving overall online behavior as well. Twenty-six
Impact of social media recommendations
Trust in social recommendations also appears to be increasing. The survey indicated that one in three respondents followed through with a friend’s recommendation received through a social media outlet like Facebook or Twitter. Americans appear to be more likely to make a recommendation through a social networking site than Canadians. Twenty-five percent of Americans and 17% of Canadians said they had recommended a brand, product or service to a friend via social media within the last three months.
This difference could be explained by Americans’ willingness to follow brands on social media networks. Americans are almost twice as likely to follow 10 or more brands in social outlets than Canadians are. In fact, almost half of the Canadians polled didn’t follow any brands at all.
Of those who use social media, Facebook was the overwhelming social network of choice for both Canadian (64%) and American (67%) consumers.
Empathica’s own patent-pending brand recommendation application, GoRecommend, enables brand advocates to share positive brand experiences with their friends on Facebook, Twitter and e-mail.


Silverstar Casino Slashes Reporting Time by 50 Percent with BI Platform

Silverstar Casino has successfully implemented MicroStrategy Incorporated's BI platform. Silverstar Casino is a member of Gold Reef Resorts Limited, a South African gaming and entertainment company that provides state-of-the-art gaming, dining, and entertainment facilities to the general public.
Silverstar's new BI system has greatly enhanced and simplified data analysis by providing an in-depth single view of data across all departments. The increased visibility allows for accurate and comprehensive reporting, and leads to faster and more strategic decision-making.  
"The new BI system has reduced the time we spend on monthly reporting by more than 50%," explains Anish Sana, IT Specialist at Silverstar Casino. "There is now more time to spend on operations and innovation."
Silverstar's vision of implementing a BI system to provide enhanced data analysis began three years ago. The casino evaluated three potential BI solution providers before deciding last year that MicroStrategy's offering would add the greatest value.
Sana continues, "We were impressed with MicroStrategy's self-service architecture, ease-of-use, highly visual dashboards, and mobile reporting that allows us to put the analytics and reporting in the hands of the business user. MicroStrategy's history in the business intelligence sphere also gave us confidence that we had chosen the right technology partner."
Due to the casino's limited staff resources, Sana explains, there was a concern that the initial project would not be completed within the one-year period. "However, MicroStrategy helped us achieve roll-out in less than half the time." The new BI system links seamlessly to Silverstar's existing IT environment, which includes a gaming system, point-of-sale technology, an ERP system, and a wireless infrastructure.  
"We have had many achievements in the past year," says Sana. "Since the implementation of the MicroStrategy BI platform, we were able to quickly align and structure our decisions based on our strategy, company vision, and values. Our management team is empowered with information that allows them to adapt and act upon the ever-changing customer entertainment and gaming trends. And, our new analytical capabilities will take us places that most other casinos have not experienced."
What’s next
Silverstar Casino is currently working on a project to enhance its customer entertainment service capabilities through information from the BI platform. "Early next year we expect to have in place a more mature and extended MicroStrategy platform that will be used to drive our casino gaming and entertainment promotions for our loyalty program guests," says Sana. Silverstar anticipates that a holistic view of its customers will lead to a better understanding of its service delivery requirements.


Cracker Barrel Explores Energy Alternative via Electric Car Charging Stations

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. has joined The EV Project, and will install ECOtality’sBlink electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at restaurant and store locations.
As part of the agreement, Cracker Barrel will install ECOtality’s Blink EV charging stations, including both Level 2 and DC Fast Charge commercial electric vehicle charging stations, at 24 restaurant and store locations within EV Project markets beginning April 2011. Blink charging stations will be installed at 12 identified locations that support ECOtality’s previously announced EV blueprints in Tennessee and will connect the transportation corridors linking Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga. The 12 Cracker Barrel store locations in Tennessee include: Athens, Cleveland, Cookeville, Crossville, East Ridge, Farragut, Harriman, Kimball, Lebanon, Manchester, Murfreesboro, and Nashville. The remaining 12 unidentified Cracker Barrel locations will be installed within other Tennessee locations that are within the boundaries of TheEV Project.

The announced locations for the charging stations were based on the results of ECOtality’s EV Micro-Climate process. The procedure takes into consideration a number of factors including geographic location, distance to major interstates and transportation routes, distance to other EV Project charging facilities and population density. Using the same procedure, ECOtality will work with Cracker Barrel to determine the location of the additional 12 charging locations.
“Cracker Barrel was founded along the interstate highways with the traveler in mind and has always anticipated what our guests might want and need as they stop in for some good country cookin’ and to experience genuine Southern hospitality,” says Cracker Barrel Chairman and chief executive officer Michael A. Woodhouse. “Becoming a leader in The EV Project continues our tradition of striving to anticipate and meet our guests’ expectations. We expect our guests will be quite interested in seeing these charging stations when they stop in with us. We like to think that our guests will be pleased to see Cracker Barrel taking an active role in exploring energy alternatives that are aimed at protecting the environment as well as strengthening the economy.”

About the solution
The Blink DC Fast Charger is capable of providing a full charge in less than 30 minutes. The Blink Level 2 and DC Fast Charging stations incorporate the Blink design and provide intelligent, user-friendly features to intuitively and safely charge electric vehicles, including fully interactive color touch screens and web-based information delivery via the Blink Network. A Blink Network smartphone application allows users to access charge station locations and GPS navigation, as well as charge status and notifications of completed or interrupted charging.
The Blink Network is an infrastructure of charging stations through which consumers can become members to receive various benefits for using commercial charging stations at locations across the country. Charging costs will vary based on local equipment operating costs and level of membership. While Blink Network membership does come with specific advantages, any EV driver will be able to charge at a Blink station through a variety of options including interoperable RFID cards or fobs, smartphone applications, mobile phone based payment options, and credit cards. The Blink Network will continue to employ secure and convenient methods of authentication and payment at Blink stations that leverage its network connected and over-the-air upgradeable 2-way touch screen interface to ensure ECOtality can service a wide array of the EV customer base long term.

ECOtality is project manager of The EV Project and will oversee the installation of 15,000 commercial and residential charging stations in 16 cities and major metropolitan areas in six states and the District of Columbia. The project will provide an EV infrastructure to support the deployment of 8,300 EVs. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy through a federal stimulus grant of $114.8 million, made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The grants are matched by private investment, bringing the total value of the project to approximately $230 million


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