Why Restaurants Need to Make Friends with Emerging Technologies
by Michele J Martin
Is the restaurant industry technologies reluctant best friend? Not too long ago, technology, as we now know it, was a novelty. Personal computing showed up 30 years ago with Apple and IBM, while the world wide web arrived just under a decade later, laying the groundwork for today’s technologies.
For most of us, dining out with friends used to mean advance planning with lots of voicemails, calls to directory assistance or searching the yellow pages to find address and phone numbers, sometimes it even meant taking out a street map to determine how to get there.
Today, what took hours or days to coordinate just 20 years ago, can be done in 5 minutes. Thanks to the advances in technology, we can now text our friends in a group message, asking them if and where they want to go out to tonight, while searching Yelp and OpenTable for reviews and open reservation times, and pulling up Google Maps for directions.
Don’t feel like going out? We don’t have to search a drawer for delivery fliers, or spend time looking over the phone book and calling places, asking them if they offer delivery. Now we can just search on yelp, or foodly, or via a service like ours, TakeoutTech.
Things are undoubtedly different now, and we use a computer and the technology that followed for almost every aspect of our personal and professional lives. However, even with the global reach and adoption of technology, even though the majority of people working behind the scenes themselves utilize a myriad of these technologies, the restaurant industry is historically slow to try anything new. The only problem here is that technology is no longer novel and restaurants are starting to suffer for their failure to adopt these widespread technologies.
Technology isn’t going away, infact, it is only spreading. Two recent articles in Bloomberg Business discuss two billion dollar tech acquisitions that will effect the restaurant industry. Oracle’s recent purchase of hospitality industry solutions provider Micros for $5.3B and Priceline’s purchase of OpenTable for $2.6B. With this much money changing hands, it’s evident that restaurant technology not only has a future, but a pretty compelling one too.
As the Internet of Things grows, as people continue to plug in and connect, adoption of technology for sustainable growth will be paramount to a business’ ability to succeed long term. From wearable tech to smart devices and geo-location apps, our lives are becoming about experiential networks. Engagement is no longer enough. We want and are demanding experiences that the new emerging tech is allowing us to get a taste of. How the restaurant industry adopts and embraces these things moving on will determine some restaurants success and failure. Providing great food at a good price, with a talented staff is no longer enough. From reducing costs, improving training, even to reaching the guests and providing more access between guest and a restaurant’s brand story, technology is a restaurant’s best friend, even if the friendship is a reluctant one.