The Restaurant Back of House Technology Explosion: Where is it Headed?

Summary

The pace of technology adoption for the back of house at multi-unit restaurant chains (as well as convenience stores, which are rapidly morphing into quick serve restaurants) continues to accelerate, offering both risk and opportunity. With so many technology vendors and so many new possibilities, how can operators and owners corral the potential and avoid confusion? Are we lost at sea or is the wave of new technology pushing towards new land? On the horizon, a silhouette can now be seen, call it the Smart Connected Enterprise (SCE), which will be built on three technology systems that address Financial Management, Employee Management, and Equipment Management. This promised land of efficiency and speed for the back of house reflects a few key technology trends:

  • Increased linkage between the physical and digital worlds – sensors, software, and controls

  • Deeper integration between software applications     

  • More automation that allows human resources to be redirected to higher level tasks

  • “Smart,” real-time decision support for operations and repair and maintenance

The SCE represents a “digital transformation” for the multi-unit restaurant business that can yield a wide range of benefits. To take best advantage of this transformation, restaurant executives should understand that:

  • Building the SCE is a long-distance race, not a sprint
  • Facilities, Operations, IT, and others will need to collaborate in new and deeper ways
  • It is important to stay focused on solving concrete business problems in order to build credibility and align stakeholders to achieve this vision

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