Being nimble with technology has become more important with the pace of change in restaurants overall. What should restaurants look for in hardware and ask of technology partners to foster flexibility?
TIM O’CONNOR: Restaurants are in the business of delighting their guests. Technology plays a big part of the overall picture. Staff must be provided with all the tools to do their job effectively. A restaurant operator should look for hardware that is easy-to-use and implement, meets current and future system requirements, and where new employees can be trained quickly. The hardware should be tested and durable enough to last in a restaurant environment. In addition, an operator should ensure that the hardware will integrate seamlessly with their entire infrastructure — including mobile payment options and online ordering.
What suggestions can you offer to operators to justify investment in upgrades? How can technology be optimized to boost profits?
BRAD WILLIAMS: Restaurants face increased competition, from the blurring of lines between the convenience store and the QSR, to the rise of the take-home meal kits and food delivery services. In addition, the increase in labor as well as food costs requires operators to invest in better technology solutions. These solutions are required for the restaurant to create a unique and improved experience for the guest, all while allowing the for a cost-effective and profitable operation. Upgraded technology solutions will allow operators to use data to determine staffing requirements, guest preferences, ordering trends, and speed of service.
How has the shift to mobile and cloud-based, impacted network strategies? What should restaurants be addressing when looking to upgrade or update networks?
O’CONNOR: When upgrading a wired or wireless application, sites should take into consideration the existing coverage, interference, and rogue access points (APs) before going live with mobile applications. Wired applications require additional throughput and stable connections to ensure consistent communication and bandwidth to support all devices. Many operators are installing a cellular failover to ensure connectivity. As operators upgrade their ISP, wireless, BOH, and wired network, it’s important to think about future requirements and design and implement based on projected requirements and security.
How should restaurants leverage technology to foster customized, digital guest experiences that drive guest and employee satisfaction?
WILLIAMS:Technology is such an integral piece of the overall customer and employee experience. The goal is to optimize technology for an efficient solution, while promoting a personalized and friendly customer and employee interaction. There are so many ways that a customer will utilize technology offerings, such as: mobile or web orders and reservations, rewards programs via a wireless network, digital signage with a customized guest message, and kiosks or tablets indicating special menu items or prompting for payment. In addition, that same technology is aiding employees to better serve guests: automated and networked KDS, wireless printers, RFID sensors to identify table location and effectively deliver orders to the correct location. If technology is properly implemented, the guest and employee will use it effortlessly to enhance the overall experience.