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Tech Experts Weigh in on IoT, Connectivity & Security

Digital natives are changing how restaurants must operate and smart tech strategies will help prepare businesses for the future. Here tech experts and sponsors of MURTEC Executive Summit, discuss some of the key areas impacting foodservice today and how restaurants must address these trends to stay relevant, competitive and secure.

Rob Graves, Vice President, Datatrend Technologies

Peter Lim, CTO, Stellar Loyalty

Laura Gaudin, Product Manager, Revention


How will the Internet of Things impact restaurant operations?

GRAVES: The Internet of Things is making an enormous impact in every industry, as well as our personal lives. Restaurant operators have been leveraging IoT-like solutions for several years, such as kiosk ordering, tabletop payment solutions, and cooking temperature sensors. As IoT technologies mature, more and more innovative ideas are emerging to improve the dining experience. We are enabling location-based mobile solutions, energy management optimization, and employee engagement tools that will continue to revolutionize food service.

LIM: Restaurants have historically applied the Internet of Things (IoT) to streamline back of house operations. In the next few years, IoT will fundamentally change the demand generation side for restaurants. The front door for restaurants has already moved from the physical store to web and mobile. Guests are choosing meals and placing orders from their homes, cars, and workplaces.

What potential do you see and what are the concerns operators should take into consideration?

GRAVES: One concern, and opportunity for growth, is as we implement these new technologies, we must continually train our internal users (employees) and our external users (customers, partners, etc.). Training and knowledge transfer will become increasingly important as we shift to IoT-based systems to make sure we are utilizing these solutions to their highest potential.

LIM: The advent of new devices such as the Amazon Echo installed in homes and Internet apps in connected cars, make it possible and practical to take orders across even more devices. Restaurants that can capture billions of device signals and then target the guest at exactly the right location and moment will win orders and loyal customers over their competition.”

What should restaurant operators ask of network providers and technology providers to ensure constant connectivity that today’s digital natives demand?
Many vendors will be quick to promise constant connectivity, but have no plan to actually support you if the internet goes down or the network fails for some reason. For example, some POS systems live only in the cloud and stop working completely if you lose internet. Can your POS and other critical systems continue to function offline? Does the supplier provide a free 24/7 helpdesk that you can call? An online self-help forum does no good if you have no internet connection.

What are key capabilities to look for as the online demands of guests and operations increase?

GIVEX: Ensure that your technology providers have measures in place to prevent connection issues but also mitigate them if they do occur. Ideally, their support should not be reactive, but proactive; able to monitor for connectivity or other issues and alert you if they identify exceptions or potential issues before they become problems.

Improving data and payment security is a top strategic tech goal for 38% of restaurant operators. What must operators consider about connected and integrated systems to ensure they are secure at all points?

GAUDIN: It is important for operators to understand the difference between PCI compliance and EMV chip card processing when making payment processing decision.  EMV chip card processing is a tool to prevent fraudulent cards from being used in person, but EMV does not encrypt the card data natively.  PCI compliance means, as a merchant, you are following the requirements put forth by the card brands to ensure your guest credit card data is secure. 

What questions should operators ask of tech partners to ensure security?

GAUDIN: It is critical for the payment solution you select to provide point-to-point encryption (P2PE), preferably external card readers, and be completely integrated with the point of sale.  The point of sale should only refer to a token or reference number when updating credit card transactions. This solution will keep your point of sale out of PCI scope and ensure the utmost security for your customers’ card data. 

Peter Lim, CTO, Stellar Loyalty
Laura Gaudin, Product Manager, Revention
Rob Graves, Vice President, Datatrend Technologies
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