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Connecting Innovation and Leadership

Why it is important to have expectations for every people manager in an organization. Plus: key trends impacting restaurant technologists.
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Katie Cain at MURTEC
Katie Cain, pictured right, shares Why it is important to have expectations for every people manager in an organization.

At MURTEC 2024 Total Intelligence, Hospitality Technology Senior Editor - Restaurants Anna Wolfe sat down with Katie Cain, Executive Director Digital Programs, WWT Digital to reflect on why it is important to support the individuals driving innovation and change in restaurant organizations.  WWT Digital, a digital experience consultancy specializing in elevating guest and employee experiences, was the sponsor of the  2024 Top Women in Restaurant Technology Awards and the 2024 Rising Star in Restaurant Technology Awards.

HT:  Katie, thank you so much for being here and thank you for WWT Digital for underwriting our awards program here at MURTEC. Can you tell me a little bit about why you're here?

Katie Cain, Executive Director Digital Programs, WWT Digital:  Yes, we at WWT Digital were really excited to sponsor the award winners. We are a digital consultancy and something that's really important to us is … to support the clients that we work for, the brands and drive business results for them. But it's also about supporting the individuals that we're working with, supporting them in their careers, what they're what they're trying to do and achieve and help propel them forward. It was a great opportunity for us and felt like a good fit to sponsor the women that won these awards.

We see the people in these technology roles getting more and more visibility, getting seats at tables they didn't have before, being a part of conversations that they weren't before due to all these trends that we've been talking about in the industry. It's a great opportunity for people in this space. It's also really propelling people into that change agent role within the organization.
Katie Cain , Executive Director Digital Programs, WWT Digital

 

HT:  We would love to hear a bit about some of the impact WWT Digital has made so far in the restaurant industry.

Cain: Yes. WWT Digital, we're a digital transformation consultancy. We do have a strong specialty in the restaurant space. We work with almost half of the top 20 QSRs and a lot of other brands as well. A lot of the projects we do might be around e-commerce, loyalty, AI, machine learning and data work. Sometimes that is big custom software development projects, if it's right for a brand to build something of their own. A lot of times it can also be helping them figure out what partner makes sense:  who to buy, how to handle integration work with that. We really enjoy working through those challenges with our clients. Some of the brands and some of the work that you might be familiar with: One is Wingstop. They've recently started talking a lot about their My WingStop platform.  We're helping Jack-in-the-Box roll out their point-of-sale system right now. We've worked with Panda on their app and driving more loyalty through their app. So those are a few of the projects that we've been excited about.

HT: What are some of the key trends that restaurant, restaurant technologists and these teams are facing and how have they evolved over time?

Cain:  I think that's an important topic because we've talked a lot of here at the (2024 MURTEC) conference about the trends for the brands and the industry as a whole. But what does that mean for the individuals working in the restaurant technology space?  For better or worse, we just keep seeing an expanded scope and more and more demands.  It's good and bad. We see the people in these technology roles getting more and more visibility, getting seats at tables they didn't have before, being a part of conversations that they weren't before due to all these trends that we've been talking about in the industry. It's a great opportunity for people in this space. It's also really propelling people into that change agent role within the organization. We've talked about innovation; it's one of those things where they're really being seen as one of those change agents and how to help the brand understand where to go from here, how to leverage what they've got to propel their brand forward.

HT:  I feel like we've come full circle here at MURTEC. One of the opening sessions, Building Resilient Teams with Dr. Debi Gilboa, she talked about keeping and retaining top talent. How do you get people to stay? And we just heard from our award winners talking about the importance of their teamwork. So I was wondering for brands that that want to try to attain and retain that top tech talent, do you have any advice for them? 

Cain:   Sure. The first thing that comes to mind for me is speaking to all the leaders and the managers within the organization. And what we see is when managers know that it's their job to not just lead the team, but to support their team, to propel them forward, to bring them up with them.  Then the individuals all feel very supported. They get that value and that's that turns into a place where they want to work. One great place to start is with the management and making it clear that part of the expectations for every people manager in an organization is that they're helping to advance the careers of those people on their team, helping to give them new opportunities, put them in new seats that they haven't been before and get more visibility to help grow that culture of advancement within the organization. 

HT:  Wonderful. Thank you so much for being here. And thank you for taking a few moments of your time to share your thoughts with us.
 


More Great Content from MURTEC 2024

This is just one of the dozens of though-provoking sessions at MURTEC 2024. 

You don't want to miss the MURTEC 2024 keynote featuring Eleven Madison Park's Will Guidara, author of Unreasonable Hospitality.  

Stay tuned for more videos from MURTEC 2024!

About the Author

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Anna Wolfe

Anna Wolfe is Hospitality Technology’s senior editor.  She has more than 15 years of experience as a B2B journalist writing about restaurants, retail and specialty food.

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