MURTEC Day 2 Highlights: Digital Transformation, Start-Up Alley & More

Day 2 featured digital transformers, moonshot thinking for the real world, RTN's Start-Up Alley, and so much more!

By the end of Day 2, MURTEC attendees had sore palms (from all the clapping), sore fingertips (from all the notetaking), and a sore jaw (from all the chatting, laughing and story telling). Here are some highlights from just a few of the sessions that took place on Day 2. If you're looking for more information, a full in-depth recap will be forthcoming!

ICYMI:  MURTEC Day 1 Highlights: Metaverse, Security & More

MURTEC Day 3 Highlights: The Need for Speed, Award Winners & More

Keynote: Digital Transformers Take the Stage 

During the opening session on Day 2 of MURTEC, Justin Falciola, Chief Insights & Technology Officer, Papa Johns; Wade Allen, SVP and Chief Digital Officer, Brinker International; and Vadim Parizher, VP of Technology, Taco Bell joined on stage to talk about everything from robotics to labor challenges to what the future might hold for each of their brands. Here are a couple quick quotes from that session!

  • "We're at a juncture as a restaurant industry where it’s never been easier to do the wrong thing. In marketing tech, ordering tech, tipping, rating, survey, the experience you have when you call in when your order was late or you need to change something, all of those experiences tend to be disconnected departmentally and strategically. Regardless of how amazing your tech is, the ability to do things wrong is a challenge for all of us." -- Justin Falciola
  • "COVID gave us the opportunity to press the envelope with drones, robots in front and back of house, and delivering food, and ghost kitchens, etc. I think all these things have a place. We decided to either fail fast or succeed quickly. We found that the horizon was a lot longer than we anticipated for many technologies. So we went back to see what was really driving profitability, sales, guest experience and team member experience. We’re getting everything to work perfectly so we can move forward with confidence." -- Wade Allen
  • "The most important people in our business are our team members. But there is a labor shortage. Technology is, in some ways, an answer to the labor shortage. Automation can help with the most mundane tasks. It could also help us open earlier or open later. It could help take orders, prepare food, serve customers, etc." -- Vadim Parizher

Keynote Speaker: How to Apply Moonshot Thinking to Real-World Challenges

In this Day 2 keynote, Futurist Obi Felten, CEO, Flourish Labs; Head of Getting Moonshots Ready for Contact with the Real World, Google X (2012-2021), shared some lessons and key takeaways on shooting for the moon, embracing failure, learning fast — and how to support your team throughout the journey. 

  • The biggest impediment to innovation is how you set up the company culture to incentivize people to try new things (even if they might fail).

  • Fall in love with a problem. Engineers love solutions. But if you don’t spend enough time deeply understanding the problem for the customer you might build a solution that no one wants, such as Google Glass. 

  • Innovation is a team sport. Steve Jobs didn’t invent the iPhone. Great innovations are made by great teams not great men. You need a diverse team.

  • Set kill criteria immediately so that you know when to stop wasting resources on a project that isn't going to: make money, solve the problem, etc.

The Franchise Model at Dave's Hot Chicken and Its Tech-Centric Approach to Growth 

Dave’s Hot Chicken is one of the fastest-growing U.S. franchise chains in 2022. During this quick case study, Leon Davoyan, CTO of Dave’s Hot Chicken spoke with Chris Lybeer, Chief Strategy Officer, Revel Systems on its technology-centered approach to hyper-speed franchise growth and success. 

  • "A massive key to success with a new tech rollout is to bake in a bunch of buffer time. Most project managers don't factor in buffer time, but we have to remember that even though a task only takes 10 minutes to do, it could take a manager two or three days to get around to doing it," Leon Davoyan.
  • "IT people specifically have this culture: “Let me find something cool and then roll it out.” But that can be very problematic. The way we look at technology is that we find something cool and then we think like business people and determine its real value: 'Will it make things more efficient for the customer or for our team members?'" Leon Davoyan.

  • "Restaurants can't make the mistake of thinking: 'Oh, we just had this rush of technical innovation and we're all caught up.' No. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We are headed towards automated kitchens, multiple use cases for AI and  voice and more. The pace of restaurant technology is only going to speed up and restaurants need to prepare for that," Chris Lybeer.

New & Hot! RTN's Restaurant Technology KPIs

Earlier  in the day, RTN Co-Founder Angela Diffly took the stage at MURTEC to recap of RTN's accomplishments since its launch four years ago.

During this session, the Restaurant Technology Network released the industry’s first collection of 100+ key performance indicators (KPIs), covering six broad categories: sales, marketing, product, labor, operations and service and financials. In addition, it showcased the Restaurant Technology Capabilities Framework, a tool that defines functional areas and capabilities for solutions, allowing restaurant technology stakeholders to speak a common language. 

Three of the seven key contributors to the Restaurant Technology KPI matrix appeared on stage to discuss why both these KPIs and this new tool will be such a gamechanger for the industry: Robert Peterson, Area VP, New Business, North America, Oracle Food & Beverage; George Hutto, Senior BI Developer, MOD Pizza; and Tim Tang, Director of Enterprise Solutions, Hughes.

  • "When we think about the restaurant industry, one of the big challenges that we see is that there's so many different stakeholders with so many different backgrounds. Some grew up in the restaurant industry and understand it from being servers and running cashiers and serving customers. Others have a technology background and a deep understanding of the technology that powers restaurants. For us to succeed as an industry, we need to bring these groups together and offer them a way for them to be able to communicate in a shared, understood language. Until now, we didn't have that ability," Tim Tang.

  • "When I came into MOD Pizza, I was very fresh to the restaurant industry. What I found was that I had different teams interpreting things differently.  I spent a lot of time having to prove to each team that we're talking about the same thing. So these KPI's give very standardized, very easily understood measurements that we can implement. Honestly, if I had these definitions available to me when I first started in MOD, I would have had a six month jump on my job. We all know that restaurant resources are slim – we're like one slice of butter across four pieces of toast! Having these all defined ahead of time would have allowed me to do more experimental innovative work," George Hutto.

  • Many restaurant operators ask: 'How can I contribute to RTN when I don’t have time to be at a workgroup on a consistent basis?' We still want you in these workgroups, even if you can't make every single one. But besides participating in workgroups, the most important way to contribute to RTN is by adopting our framework, KPIs, etc. And then, when you are engaging with solution providers, ask them: Have you heard of RTN? Do you support them? When operators and brands begin asking these questions, you'll help drive adoption and help the industry as a whole. So, spread the word! Let your partners know that RTN is important to you!" Robert Peterson

Firechat: Maximum Automation: Next-Level Robotics 

During this session, Benson Tsai, former SpaceX engineer and current CEO & Co-Founder of Stellar Pizza, told the story of how he developed, built, and launched a mobile “pizza robot” that’s been taking Los Angeles by storm.

  • "At first I wanted to develop a Boba vending machine. But then I realized the biggest market for Boba is actually in the United States, and that wasn't a big enough market. Pizza, on the other hand, is beloved around the world. In fact, it was the only American food allowed in my Taiwanese home. For me it symbolizes joy and America. So, it just made sense to pivot to pizza."
  • "I've developed a newfound respect for restauranteurs and entrepreneurs. You work so hard. The saying goes: 'It’s not rocket science' but as an actual rocket scientist, I think building a restaurant is harder than rocket science. I can rely on the laws of physics, but customers don’t always do what you want them to do!"

RTN's Start-Up Alley: Top 3 Showdown

Fifteen semi-finalists exhibited at MURTEC in RTN's Start-Up Alley, but only one can be a winner. To help us reach that goal, judges Robert Notte, MOD Super Fast Pizza; Carissa De Santis, Brix Holdings; and Zerrick Pearson, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, spent a few hours yesterday interviewing the semi-finalists and narrowing down the competition to their top three picks: bikky, Landed and Tablz. These three startups were then given the opportunity to speak for a few minutes on stage, explaining their technology to the audience while also answering probing questions from the judges. After all three presented, the audience was given the opportunity to vote. Congratulations to Landed for winning this year's Start-Up Alley competition!

Landed is a company that helps restaurants find, interview and hire new employees quickly. For instance, it pushes conversations via text message with applicants to get them to the restaurant for an interview within 24-48 hours of the candidates first showing interest in the job.

"That's how you reduce ghosting and get your stores staffed," said Vivian Wang, Founder & CEO.

Following through on this fast turnaround time is important (and impressive), considering the industry average for job candidates ghosting potential employers is currently about 60%. The technology can also handle live rescheduling and will introduce and tone and personalize the hiring experience for job candidates. 

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