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How Restaurants Can Create a Data Foundation for Digital Acceleration

Digital acceleration is transforming the restaurant industry, and if you’re not a part of the revolution, you are not leveraging your data to the fullest.

This rapid spark for the food industry to transform its data management strategies began as a response to the global pandemic. In 2020, the U.S. Restaurant Industry lost 110,000 establishments, ending the year $240 million below the National Restaurant Association’s projected revenue rates. However, as the pandemic lingered, restaurants that continued to fight through the crisis created strong data foundations to analyze and learn from, helping them weather the public health storm, and setting them up for future success.

KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut are three examples of restaurants that thrived through the pandemic. Each of these brands increased their pre-COVID revenue by 10% through digital acceleration. Each digitized their operating models and introduced digital ordering options.

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Many other food chains also realize the power of digital transformation and acceleration. For example, Chipotle partnered with a tech company, Semarchy, to solve their lack of data visibility, and enhance their understanding of how each individual location was performing, as well as the needs and desires of their customers. My experience with this client helped reinforce my belief in the necessity of taking a holistic approach to digital transformation. Master data management platforms provide clients in all industries with a single source of truth—a hub that stores, sorts, and analyzes all of their data. The simplicity of having everything in one location allows users to make smarter and more agile data-driven decisions.

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Here are three ways restaurants can create a strong data foundation for digital acceleration.

  1. Integrate your records into one seamless system.

Centralized data hubs allow for increased efficiency, organization, and collaboration across teams. This primarily benefits restaurant chains with multiple locations and market data. A robust data foundation means knowing where your records are and understanding how they are interconnected.

Chipotle adopted this strategy by employing a single, unified data platform. As a result, they were able to react quickly to supply-chain issues and reduce operational costs while tracking sales and food quality at the granular level. Streamlining this information into one seamless system gave them the foundation to be proactive and competitive in the market.

  1. Govern and analyze your data consistently.

Strong data foundations are not stagnant; they are consistently monitored and governed. Data governance analyzes the overall quality, security, and relevance of data. The insights gleaned from analyses can help leaders put internal standards into place to ensure that all of the information acquired and leveraged is, indeed, accurate and clearly understood. 

Using the master data management platform, Chipotle could govern its data independently, without a third party. As a result, they could quickly expand their datasets, remove irrelevant metrics, and improve the information provided regarding specific locations and menus. These internal changes elevated the customer experience, making it easier for consumers to order food and stay up-to-date with Chipotle.

  1. Trace each data-filled step.

Restaurants that succeed can trace their steps. From receiving word about a challenge to employing the solution, strong data foundations require an emphasis on data history. If the lineage is not present, trust and accountability are reduced.

Chains like Chipotle that use similar data integration applications can easily view and analyze past data-driven decisions. Not only does this build trust, but it gives the internal team a holistic view of both successful and failed strategies to learn from. It also improves the inevitable data audit process.

All three strategies can help restaurants of all sizes streamline their operations, allowing for digital acceleration. It’s time to take a holistic, data-driven approach to the restaurant industry.

About the Author 

TH Herbert is the Chief Executive Officer of Semarchy, a data software company that enables organizations to leverage their data to create business value.. Prior to assuming the position of CEO in 2021, he was the Chief Operations Officer and sales leader for Semarchy. Prior to joining Semarchy, he was Managing Partner at SWG LLC, and held leadership roles in sales, product and technology roles in several other successful companies.  

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