11/11/2020
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Executive Insight: The Importance of a Strong Network Foundation

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Ray Hatch, Vice President of Enterprise Sales Verticals, Comcast Business

As restaurants scramble to adapt to the new normal, how can technology help by delivering efficiency, security, and ROI?

As restaurant operators look to layer more technology across multiple locations in support of functions like contactless curbside pickup, food service automation and off prem order delivery, it’s critical to consider the significance of a strong network foundation. Because a lot of the new systems restaurants are implementing operate in the cloud, monitoring how many applications are running and that ample bandwidth is available is key. Otherwise these new services could run slowly and influence the guest experience. In the case of curbside pickup orders submitted through mobile apps and kiosks, operators can provide a more convenient experience if order prep is triggered when customers are entering the restaurant, which can be accomplished through WiFi and POS integrations. As business requirements and data consumption patterns continue to change over time, restaurants should be considering their bandwidth, security and WiFi needs. Otherwise there is risk of impacting the back-of-house operations and the guest experience.

As restaurants adopt and refine off-prem solutions such as pick-up, drive-thru, and delivery, what new challenges, such as security and food safety, does off-prem present? How is technology meeting those challenges?

As engagement shifts beyond the physical walls of the restaurant, we’re seeing those companies who have pushed for standardized network stacks move quicker than others. For example, ensuring that point-of-sales devices are connected with diversity for business continuity and line busting WiFi solutions to support outdoor dining or curb-side pickup have become table stakes. Especially for large restaurant brands that need to maintain standardized guest experience across many locations, implementing new back- and front-of-house technologies is much easier when all IT systems have the same baseline setup. On the more innovative side, brands are also experimenting with more cutting-edge technologies like virtual reality experiences to engage diners. 

Restaurants are collecting more consumer data than ever before -- how can technology leverage that data to enhance direct-to-consumer communications, personalization, and loyalty?

Consumers are more willing now then ever before to share their data with brands who can use that information to provide a more tailored guest experience. With that access comes the great responsibility to secure that information including when in transit from your restaurant location to your data centers where it is fed into your back-of-house operations and loyalty platforms. Thinking holistically about your data at rest and in transit will help not only secure your brand but provide comfort to your guests that you’re being responsible with their data. This is a marketable quality!

Restaurants are hardly immune to the risk of cyberattacks. It is critical to have consistent security policies across an entire system to ensure the network infrastructure is both appropriately designed and deployed, and then subsequently kept up to date with firewall configurations and best practices necessary to help protect your business. A deviation at even one location can put the entire system at risk for exposure.