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Home Depot wants to put more information at the fingertips of its “orange-blooded associates doing hand-to-hand combat in the aisles,” its chief information officer said Wednesday.

The home improvement retailer, fresh off spending $1 billion in the last three years on self-checkout aisles and other store systems, wants to give its associates “real-time access” to information about products and customers, its executive vice president and chief information officer, Robert DeRodes, said at the Sapphire 2005 conference in Boston.

That is part of the company’s long-range plans, he said, and will be based on information systems it will put in place in conjunction with conference host SAP AG, the enterprise software supplier.

DeRodes said Home Depot will convert all its basic operations over the next seven years to run on SAP software, in a deal estimated on the floor of the convention to be worth approximately $50 million.

As part of those long-range plans, associates in the aisles will be able to pull up details on the products they sell, possible uses and capabilities, appropriateness for various projects, and their availability, DeRodes told Baseline. They’ll also be able to find information on the customer they’re talking to, including past transaction history.

Click here to read the rest of the Baseline magazine story about how Home Depot is using SAP to automate and improve its sales,