Execs: Vendors should bolster client profits, enhance guest relations

Execs: Vendors should bolster client profits, enhance guest relations

GRAPEVINE TEXAS —Technology companies are tackling integration of everything from Internet ordering and food safety management to employee training and support for menu labeling to help restaurant operators achieve or enhance profitability in the easiest possible way.

That was among the key points of the Technology Executives Panel during the 13th annual International Foodservice Technology Exposition at the Gaylord [3] Texan Resort and Convention Center. —Technology companies are tackling integration of everything from Internet ordering and food safety management to employee training and support for menu labeling to help restaurant operators achieve or enhance profitability in the easiest possible way.

Paul Langenbahn, president of the hospitality division of Radiant Systems Inc. of Alpharetta, Ga., said: “As technologists, we often run the risk of sort of getting wrapped up in technology for technology’s sake. The reality is: We exist for a pretty simple reason, and that is that the operators need to serve their guests as best they can and make a profit. As we look at what is shifting in how the operators want to interact with their guests and, more importantly, how the guests want to interact with the operators, our services and technologies have to adapt.” —Technology companies are tackling integration of everything from Internet ordering and food safety management to employee training and support for menu labeling to help restaurant operators achieve or enhance profitability in the easiest possible way.

Other panelists were Paul Armstrong, chief technology officer for MICROS Systems Inc. of Columbia, Md.; Alan Liddle, managing editor for Nation’s Restaurant News; Hayan J. Ortega, retail and hospitality industry solutions specialist for Microsoft Corp. of Redmond, Wash.; and Karen Sammon, president of software solutions for PAR of New Hartford, N.Y. —Technology companies are tackling integration of everything from Internet ordering and food safety management to employee training and support for menu labeling to help restaurant operators achieve or enhance profitability in the easiest possible way.

Langenbahn said that, considering the convergence of “all the ways consumers can interact with your businesses, I think our responsibility is really to be the engine that does the heavy lifting between all assets, whether it’s a customer talking to a server, interacting at the counter, going to a website or [using] a cell phone.” —Technology companies are tackling integration of everything from Internet ordering and food safety management to employee training and support for menu labeling to help restaurant operators achieve or enhance profitability in the easiest possible way.

Armstrong predicted that order processing will become more centralized. “All of it will be integrated, whether it’s through a smart phone or whether it’s the Web, it will come in centrally,” he said. “Stores will have access to that. It goes to the kitchen displays. It goes to printers.” —Technology companies are tackling integration of everything from Internet ordering and food safety management to employee training and support for menu labeling to help restaurant operators achieve or enhance profitability in the easiest possible way.

Panel moderator and FS/TEC co-chairman Robert Grimes, chairman and chief executive of Accuvia, pointed out that Web ordering has become more popular for restaurants, but there is no dominant provider of the service. —Technology companies are tackling integration of everything from Internet ordering and food safety management to employee training and support for menu labeling to help restaurant operators achieve or enhance profitability in the easiest possible way.

Langenbahn speculated that there would not be a “one end-all, be-all solution” for most aspects of restaurant technology, as shown by developments in Web ordering. —Technology companies are tackling integration of everything from Internet ordering and food safety management to employee training and support for menu labeling to help restaurant operators achieve or enhance profitability in the easiest possible way.

Standards in Web ordering are likely years away, said Ortega of Microsoft. “When you have a lot of different companies working on it at the same time, they are going to bring different elements and make the standards much harder to put in place,” he said. —Technology companies are tackling integration of everything from Internet ordering and food safety management to employee training and support for menu labeling to help restaurant operators achieve or enhance profitability in the easiest possible way.

Armstrong said vendors “will have to continue to push [ordering and payment] technology further and further out” from restaurants, while supporting some means for operators or third-party vendors to add branding touches. —Technology companies are tackling integration of everything from Internet ordering and food safety management to employee training and support for menu labeling to help restaurant operators achieve or enhance profitability in the easiest possible way.

“You are going to have an overall transactional system that will not only service the store but that will service [the] website [and] the smart phones,” he said. —Technology companies are tackling integration of everything from Internet ordering and food safety management to employee training and support for menu labeling to help restaurant operators achieve or enhance profitability in the easiest possible way.

Ortega said social networking, through everything from networking sites to blogs, “is really going to change the way you do business.” —Technology companies are tackling integration of everything from Internet ordering and food safety management to employee training and support for menu labeling to help restaurant operators achieve or enhance profitability in the easiest possible way.

He said his company is “making an investment in social networking” and “enabling communities to talk with each other.” —Technology companies are tackling integration of everything from Internet ordering and food safety management to employee training and support for menu labeling to help restaurant operators achieve or enhance profitability in the easiest possible way.

“You have to worry about social networking, because news travels fast,” he said. —Technology companies are tackling integration of everything from Internet ordering and food safety management to employee training and support for menu labeling to help restaurant operators achieve or enhance profitability in the easiest possible way.

PAR’s Sammon said, “If your brand is compromised, it takes so long to recover,” and mentioned developments in point of sale and points of marketing, such as digital signage and centrally managed nutritional information programs. —Technology companies are tackling integration of everything from Internet ordering and food safety management to employee training and support for menu labeling to help restaurant operators achieve or enhance profitability in the easiest possible way.

She also cited business intelligence technology as one likely for continued growth within the restaurant industry. After talking with FS/TEC attendees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Pennsylvania State University, she found “they are looking at our industry and saying that, ‘You guys have data in POS, and you really can do a lot with it.’” —Technology companies are tackling integration of everything from Internet ordering and food safety management to employee training and support for menu labeling to help restaurant operators achieve or enhance profitability in the easiest possible way.

Liddle of NRN said one of the areas in which technology can help boost restaurant profitability is “e-learning,” or online and computer-based training. He said operations could benefit from “any technology that can enhance your workforce and make them better and more accountable.” —Technology companies are tackling integration of everything from Internet ordering and food safety management to employee training and support for menu labeling to help restaurant operators achieve or enhance profitability in the easiest possible way.

“Over the next three or four years, we’re going to see a whole new generation of folks leveraging” the “iPhone approach,” Armstrong of MICROS said, referring to Apple’s Web-enabled phone with large display and touch screen interface. He said people will interact so much more easily with wireless devices that they then might easily place orders or pay with their phones. —Technology companies are tackling integration of everything from Internet ordering and food safety management to employee training and support for menu labeling to help restaurant operators achieve or enhance profitability in the easiest possible way.

Customer-relationship management will also get a boost then, Armstrong said, because “as [mobile device users] come by the store, you can put offers on their phones.” —Technology companies are tackling integration of everything from Internet ordering and food safety management to employee training and support for menu labeling to help restaurant operators achieve or enhance profitability in the easiest possible way.

“With complete integration of store systems, CRM is going to make smart phones much more important,” he added. —Technology companies are tackling integration of everything from Internet ordering and food safety management to employee training and support for menu labeling to help restaurant operators achieve or enhance profitability in the easiest possible way.