Marketing, culinary executives tout technology resources and benefits

Marketing, culinary executives tout technology resources and benefits

GRAPEVINE TEXAS —Widgets, “clouds” and equipment-idling systems are among the emerging technologies prompting chief marketing officers and culinary professionals alike to explore new ways of engaging guests or improving operations.

John Tedstrom, managing director of insight and strategy for Hawkeye marketing in Vail, Colo., was part of an FS/TEC 2008 panel on marketing and culinary pros and the “Technologies They Need.” Other panelists were Keith Brunell, senior director of culinary for Maggiano’s Little Italy [3], based in Dallas, and moderator Mike Plunkett, senior vice president of purchasing and international operations for Dave & Buster’s Inc., also of Dallas. —Widgets, “clouds” and equipment-idling systems are among the emerging technologies prompting chief marketing officers and culinary professionals alike to explore new ways of engaging guests or improving operations.

“The consumer is in control and waiting for most brands and companies to catch up,” Tedstrom said. “The new consumer wants control over their media; what, where and how they consume; and, increasingly, over how and where they buy. They have lots of ways block you out.” —Widgets, “clouds” and equipment-idling systems are among the emerging technologies prompting chief marketing officers and culinary professionals alike to explore new ways of engaging guests or improving operations.

Many consumers are device-independent, Tedstrom added. —Widgets, “clouds” and equipment-idling systems are among the emerging technologies prompting chief marketing officers and culinary professionals alike to explore new ways of engaging guests or improving operations.

“They get information from the Web, cell phones and [personal digital assistants],” he said. —Widgets, “clouds” and equipment-idling systems are among the emerging technologies prompting chief marketing officers and culinary professionals alike to explore new ways of engaging guests or improving operations.

This increased mobility has implications for operational areas, including order taking and couponing, he indicated. —Widgets, “clouds” and equipment-idling systems are among the emerging technologies prompting chief marketing officers and culinary professionals alike to explore new ways of engaging guests or improving operations.

Tedstrom said technology is becoming faster, more cost-effective and easier to use. —Widgets, “clouds” and equipment-idling systems are among the emerging technologies prompting chief marketing officers and culinary professionals alike to explore new ways of engaging guests or improving operations.

For example, he said, marketing applications developers can now access libraries of precompiled code performing a number of different functions, saving time and money by eliminating the need to start from scratch. As sources of such code, he cited ruby onrails.org , jquery.com , extjs.com and Google Code. —Widgets, “clouds” and equipment-idling systems are among the emerging technologies prompting chief marketing officers and culinary professionals alike to explore new ways of engaging guests or improving operations.

Widgets, or small, specialized programs, also are available “by the thousands” on the Internet and perform tasks such generating interactive charts à la FusionCharts, Tedstrom said. —Widgets, “clouds” and equipment-idling systems are among the emerging technologies prompting chief marketing officers and culinary professionals alike to explore new ways of engaging guests or improving operations.

He named widgets.yahoo.com as among Internet sites and organizations supporting widget creation. —Widgets, “clouds” and equipment-idling systems are among the emerging technologies prompting chief marketing officers and culinary professionals alike to explore new ways of engaging guests or improving operations.

In addition, Tedstrom talked about “the huge opportunity for more creativity” represented by open systems that make it possible for multiple systems or devices to talk to each other. He said Star-wood Hotels & Resorts “has moved to a more open system to enable travel agent systems to talk to your PDA, to talk to your car rental agency, to talk to your wife’s PDA [and] to go into your [personal digital] assistant and get into your calendar.” —Widgets, “clouds” and equipment-idling systems are among the emerging technologies prompting chief marketing officers and culinary professionals alike to explore new ways of engaging guests or improving operations.

So-called “cloud computing,” or working with applications or data hosted on remote servers—often the powerful systems of a third party accessed across the Internet—interests smaller operators, Tedstrom said. —Widgets, “clouds” and equipment-idling systems are among the emerging technologies prompting chief marketing officers and culinary professionals alike to explore new ways of engaging guests or improving operations.

“It lets you access the resources of a large company even if you’re small,” he said. —Widgets, “clouds” and equipment-idling systems are among the emerging technologies prompting chief marketing officers and culinary professionals alike to explore new ways of engaging guests or improving operations.

Technological advances also are helping to reshape professional kitchens, Brunell said. —Widgets, “clouds” and equipment-idling systems are among the emerging technologies prompting chief marketing officers and culinary professionals alike to explore new ways of engaging guests or improving operations.

“One of the biggest problems is getting more people through the restaurant during busy times—11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.,” he said. “Some technology, like impingement cooking and combi cooking allows you to cook products faster and more consistently.” —Widgets, “clouds” and equipment-idling systems are among the emerging technologies prompting chief marketing officers and culinary professionals alike to explore new ways of engaging guests or improving operations.

Impingement cooking, which is used in tandem with conveyor ovens, has emerged as “a main cooking platform” at Maggiano’s. —Widgets, “clouds” and equipment-idling systems are among the emerging technologies prompting chief marketing officers and culinary professionals alike to explore new ways of engaging guests or improving operations.

“New impingement technology using infrared heat is eliminating the use of charbroilers in the kitchen,” Brunell said. —Widgets, “clouds” and equipment-idling systems are among the emerging technologies prompting chief marketing officers and culinary professionals alike to explore new ways of engaging guests or improving operations.

He said induction cooking also has become more prevalent at Maggiano’s, particularly in banquet kitchens. —Widgets, “clouds” and equipment-idling systems are among the emerging technologies prompting chief marketing officers and culinary professionals alike to explore new ways of engaging guests or improving operations.

“You can take a recipe and time it specifically and maximize the amount of volume you’re turning out,” he said. “We know exactly how many dishes we can do per hour.” —Widgets, “clouds” and equipment-idling systems are among the emerging technologies prompting chief marketing officers and culinary professionals alike to explore new ways of engaging guests or improving operations.

The use of more high-tech equipment has improved energy efficiency, Brunell said. For example, certain pieces of equipment can idle at 20 percent of capacity when they are not being used and ramp up quickly to full power when needed. “That can save a lot of money,” he said. —Widgets, “clouds” and equipment-idling systems are among the emerging technologies prompting chief marketing officers and culinary professionals alike to explore new ways of engaging guests or improving operations.

Brunell also said stackable, high-tech equipment allows for a smaller kitchen design, and estimated that new Maggiano’s are about 15 percent smaller than predecessors. —Widgets, “clouds” and equipment-idling systems are among the emerging technologies prompting chief marketing officers and culinary professionals alike to explore new ways of engaging guests or improving operations.