IT Leadership Panel: Tech Leaders Tell All


MURTEC featured a panel of restaurant tech experts covering a myriad restaurant technology hot-button issues, including COVID-19 response, loyalty programs, machine learning and more.

On concerns and tips for making data actionable, Brian Pearson, CIO, Stacked Restaurants and Marugame Udon, pointed to tools for predictive analytics that capture transaction-level detail, for example. “The big takeaway that I would have for all of the restauranteurs in the room is you have to have someone who owns the data,” advises Pearson.

Susan Carroll-Boser, Vice President of Technology, White Castle, shared her team’s formula for data analytics: report, analyze, predict and prescript. “We have a business intelligence group that does analysis on our data,” she said. Predict phase not only includes sales but also outcomes for products, speed vs. labor, and other KPIs.

Marcus Wasdin, Chief Information Officer, for State Farm Arena and Atlanta Hawks, agreed adding, “We’re really focused on the compliance aspect or the risk management aspect of data, and all the alphabet soup of privacy things (CCPA, GDPR).”

Panelists also shared their initiatives around workforce. “I can’t get away from labor being our number-one thing, all the different aspects of it,” said Carroll-Boser. “Attraction, retention. We’re competing on wages. We have a lot of limitations … Just a lot of things to think about that didn’t exist before.”

Employee Experience
Making employees feel connected is a challenge. State Farm Arena recently wrapped up a $200 million renovation including $25 million in new technology, explains Wasdin. “Every piece of technology in that building was changed and we did a great job of selecting great platforms and systems and architecting those things, but what we lost sight of in the rush of getting those things deployed was that we created a choppy experience for those employees.”

“It's tough for them to remember the login ID for Workday and the login ID for Kronos and the login ID for the intranet that they need to get to and all these other things. While we're doing a good job taking care of our guests, if our employees are frustrated because of those things, that frustration can rub off on the guests. And so we want to remove that friction,” Wasdin says, adding that his team is working on an internally developed and deployed app, “where they can get everything they need. And it'll also be the communication mechanism.”

White Castle has an employee app up and running, and a 96% opt-in rate by employees. “We give them a lot of value,” Carroll-Boser explains. “It's not just about scheduling, it's about everything that they need. It's a way for them to communicate. It's a way for them to get communications. We have to be really careful; they’re hourly employees. We can't talk to them about work things off the clock.



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