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MURTEC 2017 Speakers Address Top Trends in Restaurant Tech

Historically, leaders in the foodservice sector put more emphasis on efficiency, often at the expense of service and innovation. However, this is no longer the case. For the first time in ten years, operators are placing improving digital customer engagement and loyalty at the top of strategic goals for technology. According to HT’s 2017 Restaurant Technology Study, the majority of restaurateurs surveyed (61%), will be laser-focused on the experience and the second priority will be improving analytics to help drive and personalize those experiences.
Fittingly, the 2017 Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference (MURTEC) had as its theme: "Experience Innovation." At the event, speakers discussed a wide variety of ways for restaurant operators to improve the customer experience and drive innovation. Keynote speaker Adam Steltzner, team leader and chief engineer EDL for NASA's Mars Rover Curiosity, set the tone for the event by emphasizing the need for curiosity.
“Curiosity inspires innovation,” Steltzner said. “When companies stop being curious, they stop being innovative.”
He went on to stress that that the quality of a product is a direct reflection of the quality of collaboration of the team behind it and that companies innovate best when people are separated from the ideas they create. When that separation happens, ideas can compete in unchecked, brutal combat where only the best survive. That’s when true innovation occurs.
Key Takeaways

John Lukas, CIO, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, encouraged attendees to consider how the role of technology leaders in organizations is changing and be better prepared to help the company interact with consumers in a positive and appropriate way. “We no longer have the right to choose how consumers engage with us,” Lukas said.
Jessica Groopman, Independent Industry Analyst & IoT Advisor, Tractica discussed three major trends that will influence IoT application, utility, and adoption for restaurant operators’ ecosystems: advancements in machine learning, a redefinition of user interface and disruption across the supply chain. "What’s key for restaurants, and companies in all industries, is to think beyond today’s digital demands and limitations, and look for where current capabilities are ingredients combined to serve up new opportunities, that are greater than the sum of their parts," Groopman noted.
Scott Langdoc, Vice President, BRP, led an interactive workshop on “Mobile-focused Omni-channel Strategies to Transform the Customer Experience.” During a live poll conducted at the workshop, 70% of attendees indicated that they offer either online ordering or both online ordering and online reservations with many participants stating that that this capability is no longer optional, but a required function to stay in the game. "Restaurant operators agree that mobile technology, can have a material and profitable effect on restaurant operations," Langdoc said.
The last day of the conference featured a keynote from best-selling author Erik Qualman. He discussed how this is the golden age of data and disruption and that the key to winning is grasping the behaviors that define successful leaders in this digital age. He shared that one habit digital leaders should practice is to “strive for pushback.” Pushback is a signal of innovation and according to Qualman, “If you aren’t getting pushback, you aren’t pioneering.”
To read more key insights from our 2017 MURTEC speakers, download the report here:
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