Walmart is about to open a technology research center in Plano’s Granite Park
Walmart is opening an emerging technologies office in Plano to work on new systems designed to improve store operations.
The world’s largest retailer already employs 2,000 technologists in Silicon Valley, but it believes there’s plenty of talent to tap in Texas. The new office officially opens April 5 in a Common Desk shared space at 5830 Granite Park in Plano.
Carlos Riojas, a Walmart director of digital engineering and development who is leading the Plano office, said he has hired 17 people so far. Riojas has also leased space in the UTDesign Studio, a facility the University of Texas at Dallas created for engineering students and companies to work together. Walmart has hired four students this semester to work with its software engineers in Plano.
Walmart spokeswoman Anne Hatfield said the Plano office is similar to one that opened in February in Austin. Each one will employ 50 to 60 people by the end of this year.
Both Texas offices are working on back office functions and ways to support stores with new technology. Walmart’s Silicon Valley and New York technology offices are responsible for the retailer’s e-commerce business.
The Plano office will use data science, machine learning, computer vision and other technology to solve problems in stores, Riojas said. Issues with carts in parking lots or spills in store aisles for example could be detected faster with new systems, he said.
Some of this work has been done in Bentonville. But Riojas said those stores are so close to the home office that most customers are Walmart employees.
“It’s better to be in another market to see what needs to be improved,” he said.
Plano was also picked for its proximity to Bentonville, for the airports and being in the same time zone for “work balance” purposes, he said. He also cited the cost of living in Dallas, which is only about 7 to 9 percent higher than in Bentonville.
“Also, we’ve had great success recruiting from UTD and we know that so many other companies — Toyota, Boeing, State Farm and others — are here and their buildings are full of talent,” he said.
Pete Poorman, director of corporate relations for the School of the Engineering and Computer Science at UT Dallas, said he’s thrilled students will have another way to “learn the skills they need to succeed in the business world.”
“The reality is Walmart has some of the most sophisticated IT operations there are,” he said. “This is an opportunity that students won’t get in many other places.”
Source | The Dallas Morning News Article titled, “Walmart is About to Open a Technology Research Center in Plano’s Granite Park,” was written by Maria Halkias and Melissa Repko.
Header Photo Courtesy of Dallas Morning News.
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