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NCR’s Nuti shares company’s successful path

Many people have probably used NCR Corporation’s products without even realizing it.

Some of the products the Fortune 500 company provides include: cash registers, ATMs, retail kiosks, retail self-check-out machines and airline and health-care self-check-in devices, said William “Bill” Nuti, chairman, CEO and president of NCR.

Nuti spoke at Clayton State University on Wednesday to an audience composed of students, local business leaders and CSU faculty members. He was a guest speaker for the “Clayton State University College of Business’ Dean’s Distinguished Executive Lecture Series” at Spivey Hall.

The CEO explained how NCR, which is considered a giant in the self-service industry, has stayed alive and kicking in a changing technological environment for 127 years.

“NCR has a great perspective about the consumer, about the business,” he said.

“Everyone over the age of 50 or so, remembers mechanical NCR cash registers at practically all the retail outlets in the U.S.,” added CSU spokesman, John Shiffert. “Well, times have changed, and so has NCR.”

Understanding change, and using it has been a key component of success for NCR.

Nuti said, in 1884, John H. Patterson founded the National Cash Register Company and created the first mechanical cash registers. Patterson, he said, had to convince business owners why they needed a mechanical register. One of his selling points was convincing owners of the advantages of having a receipt. Patterson explained how they could keep tabs on sales, and find out if employees were stealing from registers. The inventor also shared with businesses the advantages of collecting tax receipts, said Nuti.

“NCR was founded on the creation of the receipt,” he said.

In 1906, said the CEO, Charles Kettering, of NCR, designed the first electronic cash register. NCR’s John Janning created liquid crystal displays in 1968. “We own the patent for LCD,” he said.

In the company’s recent history, it has been able to maintain an innovative route, and the result has made the company into a self-service expert.

Self-service technology has become popular because current consumers want control, convenience and better quality, said Nuti. “It’s not our only niche, self-service, but we’re extremely good at it,” he boasted.

He said current success did not come easily for NCR. The company had to make some challenging decisions to reach the level of success its is experiencing today. At one point, the company’s focus wasn’t innovation, and it had to figure out how to get there, he said. “We were in a conditional state of needing to cut costs,” he added.

According to Nuti, in 1991, the company was acquired by AT&T. After the AT&T acquisition, NCR bought Teradata Corporation, which allowed it to gain the corporation’s advanced and commercial parallel processing technology. NCR was spun off by AT&T shareholders in 1997.

He said he has guided the company into a different route, which has allowed it to sustain profits and growth. For example, in 2007, NCR separated from Teradata.

According to the business community, this spin-off is considered one of the most successful tax-free spin-offs ever. Currently, Nuti said, the “market cap” of each company is more than $12 billion, which is double what the companies were doing jointly.

Nuti said he also moved NCR’s corporate headquarters from Dayton, Ohio, where it was housed for 125 years, to Duluth, Ga., in 2009. NCR also built a manufacturing plant for advanced ATMs in Columbus, Ga., that year.

Nuti said at the time that, “The decision to consolidate functions in Georgia and build a technology-focused corporate headquarters campus is right in line with our business strategy to drive growth, improve our innovation output, increase productivity and continually upgrade our focus on the customer.”

For more information about NCR, visit the company’s web site at: www.ncr.com.