Tech Investments on Rise as Restaurants Seek to Improve Customer Engagement & Efficiency

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Tech Investments on Rise as Restaurants Seek to Improve Customer Engagement & Efficiency

04/13/2015
The National Restaurant Association (NRA) is predicting continued growth for the restaurant industry in 2015, estimating that sales will reach more than $709 billion. According to the 2015 Restaurant Industry Forecast sales in the table service segment are expected to reach $220 billion in 2015, a 2.9 percent gain over 2014 sales, while sales in the quick service/fast casual segment are projected to grow by 4.3 percent and reach $201 billion.

Pair with the anticipated economic growth a continued increase of consumers willing – and expecting – to use restaurant technology, and restaurant operators are facing a period necessitating strong technology investments.

HT’s 2015 Restaurant Technology Study reveals that 51 percent of restaurants expect to spend more on technology in 2015 than they did in 2014 and 47 percent anticipate an increase in technology projects. One major difference between the tech investments in 2014 and 2015 is the fact that there is a decided shift taking place from business efficiency goals to focus on more customer-centric strategies.

With that said, the number one motivator for IT projects in 2015 remains business efficiency, however, customer engagement/guest loyalty has moved up the priority list – driving 53 percent of IT projects.  This has taken the number two spot replacing employee productivity which in 2014 came in with 59% and in 2015 had 32%, behind security (40%), cost-saving measures (38%) and enhanced guest service (34%).

The top challenge now for restaurants in regards to IT investments is a lack of funding, with 49% of restaurants reporting that their company’s technology budgets are insufficient. The second problem facing operators is meeting the increased expectations of tech-savvy guests. This challenge moved up from a third place ranking in 2014, with 38% of respondents saying that guests expect greater technology than we can keep pace with.”

In keeping with these results, the NRA reports that one-quarter of consumers say technology options are important features that factor into their decision to choose a restaurant – and experts anticipate this will continue to grow.

This increased pressure to meet rising customer expectations stands to have a positive impact on restaurant operations as more operators say that customer engagement is a key driver for IT efforts. The alignment between customer-centric strategies and IT projects stands to foster integration across these areas and help prevent technology initiatives from becoming stuck and stagnant in silos.


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