Marybeth Pearce, Executive Director, Restaurant and Hospitality Technology at Comcast Business recently participated in an interview with Hospitality Technology. Below Pearce shares her insight on the ever-increasing role technology is playing in employee and customer experiences in the restaurant industry, as well as how working with a managed service provider can help keep pace with digital transformation goals.
How do you see technology being used to transform restaurant operations?
There is tremendous focus on how technology can transform the employee experience. While technology that enhances guest interactions and delivers a frictionless experience is still critical, there are major opportunities to use technology to help improve the employee experience and thus overall operations. Leveraging IoT to automate mundane tasks, such as temperature monitoring, will allow a reallocation of labor to more complex or guest-facing tasks. Using video analytics and machine learning to gather data and automate inventory management and food prep will help drive cost efficiencies and consistency.
How does optimizing operations ultimately improve guest experience?
Operational efficiencies provide the employees more time to interact with and serve the guests, rather than spending time in the kitchen, back of house or bathrooms performing tasks that technology otherwise could. Simplifying tasks can also drive higher employee satisfaction. For example, by leveraging IoT sensors to monitor facility temperatures and inventory levels, an employee can get that time back to be in the front of house. Leveraging technology that aids in food prep, whether its full robotics or “machine vision” that tracks consistency of the meal preparation (numbers of chicken nuggets in the box or pepperoni on the pizza, for example) ensures the guest is going to have the same quality meal every time they visit.
What role does network connectivity play in powering tech-driven operations?
Network connectivity is the foundation for powering the tech that will drive improved restaurant operations and overall employee and guest experience. Different technologies will rely on different types of connectivity: From high-speed reliable broadband or fiber to WiFi to LoraWan for IoT, the restaurant technology ecosystem will be powered by different types of network connectivity.
As more technology is adopted by restaurants, having a supplier that can deliver fast, reliable bandwidth for today’s needs and tomorrow’s possibilities is key. The reliability of the connectivity is critical as more applications are hosted in the cloud and guest interaction often comes from outside the restaurant via digital orders. If the connectivity is not available, the rest of the technology to power the restaurant can also be impacted.
As restaurants manage a growing number of front- and back-of-house technologies, how can managed network services help?
Partnering with a Managed Service Provider will help the in-house IT team to focus on new innovations rather than spending time managing the technology services already implemented. It will also help ensure employees are not spending time managing technology and distracted from serving guests. Managed network services can also help restaurants invest in the technology that is needed today while working together to strategize for the growing set of technologies that are entering this dynamic market.