The re-write of our grocery e-commerce platform, or "Project Martini" is about to be implemented in the live environment over the coming weeks.
We've been delivering groceries online since 1995 so we've built up a fair wealth of experience in this field. In 1999, I helped launch the "BOB" project - "Best Of Breed" - where we were given the budget to design a best-of-breed grocery service ready for launch in 2000 when Tesco.com Ltd was formed as a separate company under the Tesco PLC umbrella.
BOB had a wealth of great grocery functions and facilities both for the customer and our picking and delivery staff. There really was nothing like it.
The (not the right word) "issue" was that the good ideas kept flowing, so every 9 months a new version of BOB would launch. Sometimes very complex elements of functionality would have a sub-BOB-release of their own - so BOB 3.5 and BOB 6.5 would implemented shortly after their 'integer' versions.
All good stuff but by the time we reached 2007, BOB was creaking a lot from all the new ideas that had extended its abilities way beyond its original design.
Now, I am a friend of the theory of evolution and an enemy of the religious pseudo-science that is 'intelligent design' in the real world - but in our IT world, BOB's evolution from its original design was undermining its performance and an intelligent design was definitely the best way forward.
So between then and now, Project Martini's elegant and high performance blueprint has been developed using IT expertise from the middle floor of our Welwyn Garden City HQ to our IT centre in Bangalore.
The Martini platform is living today on our integration test servers and is about to migrate to the final operational test platform, whereupon a control group of us will be able to place orders and try out all the new functionality.
The "Tesco Community" of customers has been invited to apply to have their accounts switched from Bob to Martini to try out the new service, and if everything goes to plan we'll be moving more and more live customers to the new service throughout August.
Project Martini promises a lot - "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere!" and I'll reveal more of just what that means and what it can do soon.
I must put on record the massive effort that has been given by everyone across the business to bring Martini to life. If you visit Tesco.com HQ you can sense in the air the buzz that we are "nearly there".