Restaurants admit strong fears about keeping up with tech

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The promise of mobile technology has made believers out of most restaurateurs who use it, but fewer than half are confident they can wield it to full advantage going forward because innovation is coming too rapidly for them to digest, says a new research study.

The report, drafted by technology supplier Oracle Food and Beverage, found that 62% of operators doubt they’ll be able to keep up with the advancements, and 59% worry they’ll be rendered obsolete by tech-savvier “disruptors.”  Nearly 1 out of 5 respondents (18%) said their companies are not investing fast enough in technology to take advantage of what’s available.

The research portrays the industry as an appreciative user of phone- and tablet-based technology. Four out of 5 (84%) of the executives interviewed for the report said their labor costs have been reduced by guest-facing mobile tech, and a similar majority (86%) attest that the digital devices have cut service times and boosted throughput. 

An even larger proportion (93%) said they’re convinced the capabilities have favorably affected guests, bolstering loyalty and repeat business. 

But the respondents showed they are clearly dizzied by the task of keeping up with the pace of innovation. Only 48% percent said they’re confident they can capitalize on tomorrow’s advancements. 

The rigors of keeping up-to-date on new technology and the suppliers providing it is a lament readily heard at industry gatherings. At the Restaurant Leadership Conference held earlier this month, A&W CEO Kevin Bazner joked during a panel presentation that the state of tech had probably advanced considerably just in the time it took him and his fellow panelists to take the stage.

Yet the Oracle study indicates that operators appreciate the potential benefits of those rapid-fire advancements. For instance, virtually all the respondents (96%) expressed a belief that mobile inventory management, a relatively new capability, can save them time and money. 

Similarly, 89% said they believe add-on suggestions delivered to consumers using an ordering app will boost check averages in the future, and 95% said they expect mobile tech to improve guests’ experience and strengthen brand loyalty.

The research was based on interviews last summer with 279 executives of food and beverage sellers that were using mobile technology. 

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