Well, I made it out alive. I returned from Vegas with a couple dollars left in my wallet and a slight sunburn on my face. No complaints here!
As a first time sponsor of the Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference, we came with few expectations, but left with a plethora of knowledge about the trends of the hospitality industry for 2011. After attending the keynote speakers, networking sessions, and round table discussions, I returned to Minnesota with some interesting highlights for you IT people in the crowd.
Social Media is all the rage.
With an entire round table discussion focused on “Cashing in on Social Media,” IT personal from various chains shared their successes and frustrations. A few topics discussed were Tracking ROI, who owns the social media between IT and marketing, and social media monitoring (stay tuned for next week’s blog posts as I will share our insight and address these common questions).
Return On Investment can be tricky in new technology.
Naturally, businesses are most interested in the technologies that will provide a ROI. What happens when you are one of the first to use a product or service, how do you know if it is a good investment? Unfortunately, you may not right away. However, investing in new technology can be like skydiving. If you are the first of your group to jump, you miss out on the anxious waiting time that the others must incur. You also appear to be the leader of the group because you are confident that your harness will hold you in and you will land safely. On the contrary, if you are the last to dive, you have seen everyone do it prior to you. While you still have a chance to back out if your friends parachute did not open, you are also wasting time waiting and stressing over something that could potentially be the best decision you ever made.
Restaurant operators want to be revolutionary whether it is with their products, services, or technology investments. As an early adaptor, you have an opportunity to set the standard. ROI is all relative. Tasti D-Lite, Ruby Tuesday Inc., and Joey Restaurant Group are all examples of companies who jumped first and in turn were able to demonstrate a return on their investments. So ultimately the question is, do you want to be a technology industry leader, or do you want to play it safe?
Vendors need to play well together.
As Ruby Tuesdays CIO discussed in his keynote presentation, there are limited vendor options for integrated POS and back office solutions. AKA: Vendors will need to capitalize on their strengths and find partners to provide total solutions for unique requests by operators.
To read an example of how three point of sale vendors worked together to provide a total solution for Duane Reade Pharmacy, Click Here.
In 2011, hospitality operators are most likely to invest in Point of Sale Hardware/Software.
Based on a live survey of 150 attendees from the conference, 33% of hospitality operators said their resources would be focused on POS Hardware/software. In a close second, 32% will spend on Business Intelligence and Back Office. 16% on PCI Compliance/Security, 13% are going to focus dollars toward CRM/Loyalty, and lastly 6% on social Media/mobility. What are you going to invest in this year?
The vendor selection process may be viewed as an overall business decision.
Martyn Holland, SVP & CIO of HMSHost Corporation, spoke on the way his company chose a point of sale vendor with an upgrade to their 15-year old, pre-existing systems. After creating a long list of POS vendors, he then asked if the vendor could satisfy major components. Next, HMSHost did a technology review. They looked at their current environment which returned a shorter list of vendors. Now the kicker— IT stepped out of the process at this time while vendors began to demonstrate their equipment. Upon selection of the vendor, IT did not have a vote! A business panel ultimately selected the POS vendor.
After Martyn Holland told his story, the audience was polled on how many people have looked at vendor selection in this way. Consequently, very few IT personnel have a similar process for their vendor selection. However, it worked for HMSHost, and maybe it would be more effective than your current selection process? Just a thought.
Click Here to read more tips on selecting a point of sale vendor.