Integration Battlefield: Managing Your Tech Stack
This interactive session, led by Josh Thurmer, Director of IT, Cousins Subs, gave attendees advice on how to navigate legacy systems and create a path forward.
Step 1: What’s in the Tech Stack
Include everything − POS, back-office analytics, credit card processing, security and “the big one,” third-party delivery vendors. “If those aren’t integrated correctly, your operations will be crippled with tablets behind the counters,” Thurmer warns.
Security should be at the top of the list. “Without security, any sort of DDoS attacks can cripple your business within minutes,” he adds.
The Birth of the Restaurant Technology Stack Architect (RTSA) The RTSA should hold the blueprint, and create and control the processes of whether a technology is eliminated from or added to the stack, what APIs are used, whether there are two-way communications within integrations. “Someone needs to have the big picture in mind … You need to be able to push back on the organization, and say, ‘Yes, this may be a good technology for your needs,’ but it is not good for the tech stack and here’s why,” he explains. “Make sure that you’re really controlling what’s coming in.”
Step 2: Identify Connection Points
Where are the connection points in the tech stack? “If you’re missing things, if things aren’t connected to other things, you need to evaluate if that’s useful within your organization, because if it’s not connected to anything, chances are that it’s really hard to support and that it’s probably not as useful from an analytics side as it could be,” Thurmer says. “The goal is to get that down to one single source of truth. And think about whether you think it’s important to have two-way communication within this API or if a single stream of data going one way is sufficient.”
During this process you might need to have a difficult discussion about replacing tech with something better. “It’s a hard conversation to have. But those are the conversations that you need to start planting the seeds and say, ‘I know you love it. But let’s find something that you’re going to love more,’” advises Thurmer.
“There’s no right or wrong answers, but there is a best answer. And we’re not always going to get that best answer the first time. We have to step back and make adjustments as we go, but this is our goal all the time, to make sure that we have, through this moment, the best tech stack that we can have in our environment,” Thurmer says.