How to Apply Top-Shelf Tech to Your Bar
Technology in bar and restaurant establishments is here to stay, especially after the influx of novel solutions adopted during the pandemic. According toSpotOn, 3 out of 4 operators are likely to adopt new technology and 71% plan to increase their spending in 2023. In fact, the most successful hospitality venues, whether single-unit independent craft beer bars or multi-unit chain restaurants, already understand the importance of technology as a core competency.
I’ve had a front-row seat to this revolution in hospitality, especially in the craft beverage space. Technology adoption is directly correlated to the preparedness of the environment, the staff and the success of these business models.
Safe and Secure Data Collection
POS, inventory management, customer relationship managers, digital menus – each solution is dependent upon the data your establishment generates, whether passively (via a sensor, for example) or directly (via manual or customer interaction).
Adding new features, functionalities, and modules to existing POS is a priority for 71% of respondents, according to HT’s2 2023 POS Software Trends Report.
In many cases, that data is unique to your concept. So before adopting new technology, evaluate how you can fully leverage the data while maintaining a high level of security and privacy. For example:
- How is data within the new solution collected, stored, and secured?
- How accessible and query-able is the data?
- How does the solution aggregate and leverage data to help staff make informed operational decisions?
- What opportunities for integrations are available with the solution?
- Is data collected in your establishment shared with others? Is it being packaged and sold as its own product apart from your use?
Prepare for Cloud Computing
Bar and restaurant technology should be simple and reliable. With the power of cloud computing and edge devices, you can turn your day-to-day operations into something more efficient and wholistic. Inside your establishment, choose equipment that performs its defined task perfectly, then choose technology partners who can take simple bits of data and leverage a single-edge device that can push those bits into the cloud. Relying on the power of cloud computing to do the heavy lifting is crucial. Bar managers and staff do not want to bother with complex devices that require debugging or maintenance – so don’t saddle them with unnecessary infrastructure. Let the cloud do the work from its safe space.
Codify Business Rules
In nearly every case of new technology adoption, there is a need to transform the unwritten rules (or traditions) that guide day-to-day norms and decision-making into codified “business rules.” You can help your teams understand that in order to gain efficiencies, technology solutions will need to naturally guide managers to establish measurable targets, set parameters, define thresholds, populate pre-determined choices, etc. These rules (or settings) build the framework within which the new solution helps streamline operations and gain the advantages the technology is intended to deliver.
A significant part of successful technology adoption includes involving operational managers in codifying the business rules the system will use. Build this step into your adoption calendar and give your managers time to participate. The best technology partners should understand the time constraints of the hospitality environment and efficiently guide your team through the process.
Add by Subtracting
Because of the unique nature of hospitality staffing (there usually isn’t enough), you will have much greater success implementing a technology adoption by remembering this phrase: “If you add, you must subtract.” When adding new technology to the operation, make sure staff members understand what is being subtracted. For example, if you’re adding sensors underneath kegs to provide real-time inventory readings – the team will more readily embrace that addition by understanding they will no longer produce late-night keg-shaking inventory reports. If you’re adding a new module to your POS system that facilitates beer flights – help staff understand they will no longer enter each element of the flight independently (saving time and frustration).
While these trade-offs may be intuitive and obvious to us as technologists (because we expect to gain advantages with every new adoption), bar staff will want clarity around what to “start doing” and what to “stop doing” in conjunction with a new program or system.
Hospitality organizations that are growing and forward-leaning will build a core competency in technology adoption. As a technology leader, you are and will continue to be, relied upon to prepare environments for the safe and secure adoption of new solutions. Your unique understanding of the on-premise (and the need to thoughtfully prepare managers and staff) will gain you more willing partners when it’s time to get everybody on board.
About the Author
Nate Zander has been a software engineer for over 20 years, with over 10 years in the craft brewing industry and is now the Sr. Director of Engineering at BrewLogix.