Kevin Anderson, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Appetize
Being nimble with technology has become more important with the pace of change in restaurants overall and technology. What should restaurants look for in hardware and software partners to foster this flexibility?
ANDERSON: It is essential that restaurant operators select partners that are agile. Successful technology partners are those whose solutions and pricing models are designed to easily support new initiatives and programs. Additionally, operators should seek partners that prioritize the user experience in their design, because technology only works when users understand and embrace it. Typically, many different people need to use a given restaurant technology, including guests, staff, management, and suppliers. If a technology partner is not focused on building an experience that is intuitive and efficient for each and every user, then the technology they offer will not deliver the results hoped for.
Systems integration remains a focus and top goal for restaurants. What strategic steps will be necessary to achieve this? How must technology suppliers support operators to enable integration?
ANDERSON: Restaurant operators must be empowered to use whatever services and tools they need, and innovative technology partners have embraced this “ecosystem of technologies” in a couple of ways. First, they’ve adopted an “API-first” design approach, which makes it far easier for other technologies to integrate with their solution. But in addition to publishing a flexible, well-documented API, it is important that technology vendors prioritize innovation with complementary technologies and providers. Sustained success will come to those suppliers that are continually forging partnerships with compelling new technologies, funding integration research & development, and creatively working with restaurants to explore new integrated solutions.
Identifying ROI continues to be a top challenge for restaurant operators in 2020. What suggestions can you offer to operators to justify investment in upgrades? How can technology be optimized to boost profits?
ANDERSON: Calculating Return on Investment of restaurant technologies has become much easier and more precise with the rise of enterprise-grade cloud technologies, and the real-time analytics these solutions provide. Operators can now pilot new technologies and programs, quantify their performance, and make data-driven decisions about the proposed upgrade. For example, when considering whether to deploy self-service kiosks, an operator can conduct a pilot during which they can analyze the performance of the new technology, compare it to baselines and calculate a measurable ROI for the proposed kiosks.
How has the shift to cloud-based systems impacted technology strategies? What should restaurants consider when moving systems to the cloud?
ANDERSON: When considering a transition to cloud technology, operators must evaluate both security and financial commitment. On the security side, not all cloud services are created equal, and operators must ensure that their vendor has designed their systems for redundancy, availability, data protection, and privacy. Operators should only consider vendors who subject their services to appropriate 3rd party testing & certification. From a financial perspective, operators must ensure that they do not adopt a cloud solution that – because of the “bundling” that often occurs with cloud services - hampers their ability to scale in the future.