Transforming Hospitality Industry through Mobile Technology

Eric Rosenzweig, CIO, Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp.
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Eric Rosenzweig, CIO, Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp.

Many technology trends such as Mobile, IoT, and Cloud among others are transforming hospitality industry to a great extent. Mobile technology in specific is affecting the very fabric of day-to-day business operations. However, the most challenging task pertaining to the changes in technology is training the existing staff to remain in pace with new and advanced trends.

"One area that needs to be improved is predictive analytics which helps us better understand our guests and meet their needs"

Mobility and Analytics to Understand Consumers

Perhaps, mobile is probably the biggest opportunity for the restaurant industry. The organizations that are figuring out how to exploit technology attract and retain customers in a very competitive environment. More and more restaurants today are working on using data to better understand their customers. Restaurants need to understand what interests their guests to provide meaningful applications to their guests. Additionally, they also need to encourage the guests to provide more information about themselves in the mobile applications so that they can market efficiently to them. Restaurants are  also finding ways to better understand their customers to help increase the frequency of usage of the applications and collect more data that they can use later on to make better decisions. However, making sense of large amounts of data that we receive is the key to success.

Thwarting Challenges around Hospitality Management

In order to stay ahead of the competition, restaurants need to constantly assess the market and observe what others are doing to understand how easy or difficult it is to carry out day-to-day activities in the restaurant and provide better services. Every restaurant’s technology aim is to meet the needs of its consumers by delivering solutions that enable the guest to interact better with the brand. Though there is much advancement on the technology front, predictive analytics is one area that needs to be improved as it plays a vital role in understanding data. Predictive analytics and analytics tools in general need to be matched with the appropriate skills within the business to get the most out of these tools.

Role of IoT and IT

Many technologies already exist in the hospitality landscape. From monitoring the temperature of the refrigerators to transferring orders to the kitchen, IoT integrates all these systems. Additionally, with the help of IoT, restaurants can leverage proximity technology that helps them to identify the people who are in the proximity of restaurants.

IT should not work in a silo; it should be treated as a part of the organization. Too often it’s “IT working with the business”, when in reality IT is part of the business and should be considered as such. Today, IT needs to be much more nimble and agile. IT has to be far more integrated with the other departments to be able to keep up with their needs. In some cases IT needs to act as more of a consultant and certainly as a partner to other areas of the business, working to understand their needs, and helping to solve their problems by providing solutions.

In the past, we have invested heavily in procuring hardware and software building a strong IT infrastructure. Today we focus on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)or other cloud based technologies to not only manage cost, but allow us to move more quickly.

Challenging Environment

In our case, and many other companies, a lot if the applications running the business are homegrown and get harder to maintain the older they get. We’ve decided to employ technologies that are delivered as SaaS and in the Cloud to be able to deploy solution much quicker. This change is forcing us to look at different skill sets for those in IT. We need less coders and server admins and more people that can understand the business and translate those needs into a technological solution.

Since technology is now on the top of every CEO’s list, it is the primary job for CIOs To understand the needs of the business and use technology to meet these needs while keeping a keen eye on the future needs of the organization.

Finally, I advise CIOs to really think of themselves as businesspersons and keep themselves engaged with their peers in other areas of the business. IT is in a unique position in that it has visibility to every department in the organization. I believe it’s IT’s job to use this position to create solutions that drive the entire company forward.

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