res·tau·rant tech·nol·o·gy - /rest(ə)ränt/ /tekˈnäləjē/ (n)
Any piece of software or computerized tool used in food service establishments or to aid in overall operations. Examples included, but are not limited to, point of sale, inventory, reservations, etc.
If we look back 20 years, that term would be used to describe now archaic point of sale systems. The clunky old machines that, at the time, were cutting edge and would save your servers time and reduce the manual errors your staff would make using hand written receipts and knuckle busters. In those days, we had approximately 7 options to choose from. Flash forward to 2017 and at last count we are at 487. On top of the industry nearing 500 POS options, we’ve advanced into inventory systems, reservation management platforms, analytic tools, onboarding, HR, training, branded apps, online ordering, delivery, food safety, geofencing, marketing and social media platforms, diner demographics…. the list goes on. While these tools were all developed to make our lives easier, we now face a new set of problems. Which ones are right for me and my brand? Do I really need to implement this tool to stay relevant? What is product integration and why is it important? How can I determine the ROI on something like this?
Unfortunately, most account reps you meet with these various brands will tell you that their product is perfect for you. To be fair, their job is to sell you on all of the benefits of their offering and help you see why their system is the best. But, what happens when you have several companies all selling you on similar products? Are all these systems the same? Which one is actually the best choice for you? Enter the restaurant technology consultant. Born from the ever-growing need for clarity in an otherwise jumbled field, the technology consultant works with your brand to understand your specific needs. They research appropriate tools and products, ensure fully integrated solutions, and negotiate fair rates. They often act as interim IT Directors. They act as a member of your team to ensure you are set up for success and can implement technology and use it for the reason it was built…to make your life easier.
As industries change we must adapt. Technology consultants are a result of this time-honored truth and a new (and needed) innovation in our industry. How will this emergence change the landscape of tech sales in hospitality? How will it shape the emergence of startup technologies and cutting-edge tools? While these questions have yet to be answered, I think we can all agree that this is a very exciting time of growth and change.