A few weeks ago, I was the opening keynote speaker in Las Vegas for the 2014 Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference (MURTEC). In the room were folks responsible for the technology investments of a vast number of major fast-casual and quick-service restaurant companies.
The attendee list featured some of the largest such organizations in the world, as well as many of the new, young upstarts which are challenging existing business models, changing methods of customer interaction, and providing more menu options and choice.
I was brought in by Hospitality Technology Magazine, which is part of the Edgell Communications Group. This was the fourth booking of me for a keynote by the latter organization — I guess they like my message! It’s always fun to have a great client like that.
Hospitality Technology Magazine just ran this wrap-up summary with some observations on my talk:
HT just wrapped up the Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference (MURTEC) in March and, after moving through recovery phases one and two, I had a chance to reflect. The first thing to report is that technology showed up — big — for the foodservice industry. For those of you who keep hearing HT and other commentators talk about the importance of the CIO-CMO alliance; about the need to shift IT into a business mindset; and about the required transition to a more digitally-focused operation, my first major observation from MURTEC is that you hear us, and you’re in. This was the most high-energy, open-minded, marketing-savvy group of restaurant technology executives who have ever been a part of MURTEC.
Change is coming rapidly, and it won’t be possible to fully vet every IT roll-out as you’ve done in the past. As keynote speaker Jim Carroll stressed, you need to be able to think big, start small, and scale fast. Carroll delivered some of the best one-liners of the conference. Somewhere in between likening mobile payment to teenage sex (because no one’s really doing it as much as they say they are; and those who are, aren’t very good at it), and predicting that by 2017 we’ll be processing payments from our car dashboards, Carroll offered up this: 60% of Apple’s revenue today comes from products that didn’t exist four years ago.
Would you be prepared to be in that position four years from now?
That’s just a glimpse of what I covered in my keynote. Why not, for example, aerial drone delivery of fast food? Is that too farfetched? Maybe not.
But more seriously, think about what the restaurant sector has been faced with in the last year.
It’s been the year of the restaurant tablet, with at-table or wait-line ordering options. The rapid emergence of hidden-menus, as a unique method of building customer loyalty. The entire sector is under challenge with innovation — with faster prep-time and two minute pizzas by Chipolte’s setting the pace. In some fast casual restaurants, we are suddenly seeing Go-Pro’s in the kitchen and food as a spectator sport! Then there is the whole reservation process, with immediate-customer-demand coming to the forefront with apps like GrubHub, Seamless, DrinkOwl, NoWait!
There are faster influencers too that lead to the more rapid emergence of new taste trends. Flavours now move from upscale kitchens to chain restaurants to grocery home-cooked meals, in 12 months, compared to 36 months 5 years ago….. consumers are snacking more frequently, now making up 24% of all “meals,” and so restaurants have to come up with new ideas faster, particularly because snacks are like a fashion category. Food trucks lead to new competition, business model disruption and exotic new taste trends that QSR’s and fast-casuals must keep up with…..
And then there is the impact of mobile. Suffice it to say, we are going to witness more change in this sector because of mobile than anything other technology of the last 50 years. There are big changes underway in terms of customer ordering, loyalty, payment, up-sell opportunities …..
Just three days ago, I did another session in this space for the Canadian division of one of the largest QSR’s in the world — a one hour keynote and a two hour workshop that helped the organization and it’s franchisees understand the unique and fast paced challenges in this space. Top of list and top of mind? Mobile and POS.
I spend a lot of time in this sector, having keynoted the global Burger King Franchise conference, an annual meeting of the top leadership of Yum! Brands, and countless other restaurant and franchise groups. There’t no time for complacency, and an organization certainly cannot rest on it’s laurels….