Broadband speeds portal access

To give its field personnel speedy access to its intranet portal, a large Burger King franchisee turns to broadband Internet connections.

Aside from the obvious issues related to building its intranet portal, one of the big hurdles Burger King franchisee AmeriKing has faced with its portal involves the way in which the company's employees access it.

Within the confines of AmeriKing's headquarters, zippy connectivity isn't a problem. According to CIO Hernando Manrique, the company has an Ethernet-based local area network that enables workers based there to access applications with relative ease, and a 1.5Mbps T1 connection to the Internet via ISP Cable & Wireless.

However, the world is not so speedy for the company's 100-plus field personnel or for the 900-plus workers in its 374 Burger King restaurants. Dial-up connection speeds create serious usability issues for those attempting to access or manipulate large financial reports. "The portal is a tremendous tool, but this is a huge obstacle," says Manrique. "Waiting for information to download over a slow dial-up connection is no fun, and it's obviously inefficient."

The answer for the field personnel, which primarily consists of the company's district managers, is a broadband Internet connection. Most of these managers start their days at a home office and then travel to the six to nine stores in their territories, so a faster connection would have to take the form of either cable broadband or DSL technology. "We have identified areas where our district managers can get cable or DSL and we're reviewing the ROI on that right now," says Manrique.

But this still doesn't solve the problem of low bandwidth at the restaurants themselves, which will also rely on dial-up connections to access the corporate network and the portal when it is rolled out to them this year. For the short term, this will have to do, according to Manrique. "Our first order of business is to get all the stores on Windows, then we'll start looking at what to do about the connectivity," he says.