Finally catching my breath from MURTEC® 2016, jotting down thoughts to share on the show. And I thought of a good joke that sums things up:
“So I got a call from the future of the restaurant industry. They said the food was great, but asked for an extra order of bandwidth.”
OK, maybe that won’t get a smile from an average consumer. But if you’re in this space, you know what I’m talking about. With so many exciting things going on in restaurant tech promising to revolutionize the dining experience, you need to keep in mind, your network is going to need more bandwidth. And for most in our space, there just isn’t enough bandwidth to go around already.
So what does one do when they see their establishments literally becoming “data hogs”? No, it doesn’t involve adding BBQ to the menu…like any experienced restaurateur, you shake up the infrastructure a bit to adjust to changing customer tastes and needs.
Which brings me to my key takeaway from the show, which, strolling the Paris Las Vegas floor and conference sessions, I saw as this: The future of restaurant technology is happening now. Those with the insight and agility to add the right technology to the menu can prosper. They may even disrupt the status quo. But ONLY if they build an equally agile and dynamic network infrastructure to support it.
Doing this was clearly on the mind of almost everyone I spoke to at the show. By and large, they were totally enthusiastic about innovations in POS, payment processing, digital signage, tableside ordering, customer analytics, video security, WiFi, loyalty, PCI, EMV, and more. But they were also pragmatic, noting every one of these things puts more pressure on the network. And they don’t have the time, resources, or budgets to keep up as it is.
There is no lack of data to back this up. Abigail Lorden of HT/Hospitality Technology (the great minds behind MURTEC) and Gaurav Pant of their partner EKN Research did a great presentation on the state of innovation in our space. Findings, which I encourage you to download, were unequivocal. Interest in network and bandwidth intensive innovation is at an all-time high, as evidenced by one of many graphic they shared, below:
Top Innovation Priorities
While at the same time, budgets for networks to support them appear stagnant, as shown by a small slice of the data they presented, below:
Technology Allocations (Network and Telecom)
So, how, one might ask, can we deliver on all of these great, customer pleasing, big data crunching, network intensive, bandwidth hogging innovations, while not spending a dollar more on the network?
As I said before, you shake the infrastructure up a bit. You take time to rethink the network; then create a customized, optimized solution capable of meeting your needs today, and capable of evolving to meet them tomorrow. And you draw on the resources of outside partners who can relieve you of the burden of managing it all, enabling you to focus your time on strategic initiatives to help your organization stay ahead.
That was my takeaway from the show, at least through my lens. Curious if others agree. Let me know either way.
By overcoming network obstacles and adopting more innovative technologies that help consistently deliver a more integrated and connected customer experience.