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Did You Miss Out on Attending MURTEC?

This year, Hospitality Technology's held its 22nd annual Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference (MURTEC) March 7-9 at the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. More than 400 restaurant operators were in attendance to be a part of three days of peer-to-peer sharing and learning.
One attendee had this to say about MURTEC: "This being my first MURTEC conference, I really enjoyed how the event was laid out, the amount of networking opportunities, and the content. The sessions weren't too long and there were plenty of breaks which made it easy to stay engaged the whole time. I will definitely be attending in 2018!"
Operators began the conference with a series of MURTEC University sessions on March 7. Open to operators only, MURTEC University is focused on fostering an ideal environment for deeper learning. Smaller sessions are led by topic experts and group discussion is encouraged. This year, topics discussed during MURTEC University sessions included: How to leverage cloud technologies, best practices for how to get system-wide buy-in from long-term and new franchisees for new digital and tech initiatives, making the most of the data available with a quick overview of SQL Server Reporting Services, dashboards, reporting examples, and a look at new features/functionality including KPIs and mobile reporting, 10 mistakes to avoid when launching a mobile app, how to leverage data and analytics to drive growth, the key components of developing and delivering an impactful mobile strategy, a group discussion of specific challenges associated with vendor selection, and how to navigate the experience of tech false-starts in areas such as security, integration, data, loyalty and POS continuity.
The second day of the conference featured an opening keynote from Adam Steltzner, team leader and chief engineer EDL for NASA's Mars Rover Curiosity. Steltzner shared with attendees the thrilling story of how technology and collaboration came together to enable the landing of the Rover Curiosity on Mars. During his presentation, Steltzner mentioned how great folly and great works at indistinguishable at the outset and that when companies stop being curious they stop being innovative. He went on to stress that that the quality of a product is a direct reflection of the quality of collaboration of the team behind it and that companies innovate best when people are separated from the ideas they create. When that separation happens, ideas can compete in unchecked, brutal combat where only the best survive. That's when true innovation occurs.

Attendees had this to say about Steltzner's presentation:
"Absolutely OUTSTANDING keynote speaker, and I'm not a space fan!" and "Steltzner was FANTASTIC! Very applicable content and engaging!"
Steltzner was followed by John Lukas, CIO, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen who discussed how a CIO's maximum value is the ability to recognize and bridge information between different departments in new ways. He shared his thoughts on how to provide the most value to all groups as a technology innovation leader and how to begin to leave behind old notions of value through budgeting or infrastructure as well as how a CIO needs to stand for Chief Innovation Officer.
After a networking luncheon, attendees were able to choose from a variety of concurrent "MURTALKS." These 20-minute sessions delved into topics such as how to implement large-scale technology projects, how to identify the key elements for a winning customer engagement strategy, how to embrace high-reward scenarios when it comes to technology, how restaurants can use data to manufacture serendipity,  how to leverage virtual reality in practical ways, the most important emerging IoT technologies that restaurants should be keeping an eye on, how restaurants can apply lessons learned from other industries dealing with data hackers, and what the restaurant of the future could like.
Following the MURTALKS, operators were able to attend operator-only workshops where they could discuss how to innovate with technology in the QSR/Fast Casual space, Full Service space and with limited budgets/support. These workshops were led by individuals from The Wendy's Company, Noodles & Co., Ignite Restaurant Group, Grill Concepts, Ford Restaurant Group and China Grill Management.
"The collaborative round table workshops on Tuesday afternoon are among the most valuable sessions. Working with one's peers, discussing similar challenges is one of my favorite aspects of MURTEC," said one attendee.
The last day of the conference featured an opening keynote from best-selling author Eric Qualman. He discussed how this is the golden age of data and disruption and that the key to winning this golden age is grasping the behaviors that define successful leaders in this digital age. He explained that there are five simple habits digital leaders practice:
  1. Simplify the to-do list and stop multi-tasking because our IQ drops 15 points when we multi-task, the equivalent of not sleeping for 36 hours.
  2. Make yourself accountable by writing down a goal and then strive to reach it. For instance, if someone were to google your name, what one word you want to appear?
  3. Master the art of being "flawsome": fail fast, fail forward and fail better
  4. Strive for pushback – it's a signal of innovation. If you aren't getting pushback you aren't pioneering.
  5. Start networking now. Take the time to highlight at least one person every day that you respect on social media. Then when you need help, there will be a network of people there to support you.

Following Qualman's sessions were a series of 10-minute presentations hosted by HT's own Editor Dorothy Creamer. They included topics such as how to face overtime rules with automation and accuracy, how a mobile app is able to be a true extension of the brand, how one chain enjoyed success with an EMV rollout, and how a restaurant was able to improve performance and communications by assessing its disconnected departmental data and merging it into a unified schema with an in house management solution.
The event concluded with Dorothy Creamer honoring 10 deserving women with a Top Woman in Foodservice Technology award. The winners hailed from both restaurants and technology suppliers and demonstrated excellence in leadership, inventiveness and skill. To read more about the winners, please see our March 2017 cover story.
Here is what your peers had to say about MURTEC:
"MURTEC provides a great opportunity to network, meet contacts in the restaurant industry, explore providers/technology solutions for participants."
"This event is packed with actionable insights and inspiration to keep you going for at least a year."
"This event is routinely terrific, year after year. Won't miss it."

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