On Foodable Insight Series: How Are Restaurants Using Technology Today?

Over the last few years, mobile technology has moved the industry to new heights. What was arguably a rather analog or traditional industry is now seeking to catch up, and even get ahead, of the latest devices to meet consumer needs more efficiently. With new options flooding the space, how do operators sift through and determine which technological advancements best suit their needs? And how are brands integrating technology with their day-to-day processes?

"We're seeing the advent of big data. I mean, big data and barbecue. Who saw that happening five years ago? But it's a reality." Chief Information Officer of Dickey's Barbecue Restaurants, Inc., Laura Rea Dickey, said. "Never change the core of who we are that makes us Dickey's...and the handcrafted approach to food, but why not couple it with technology?"

Anticipatory Tech and Types of Analyses

Taking that big data and making it actionable — whether making it mobile-app based to making sure your store has the bandwidth to handle more tech — is a challenge when digitizing your operation, but technology is no longer a "you can," but a "you must."

One way restaurant can use technology is to determine ROI. The practice blurs the line between true data science and predictive analytics, connecting consumer behavior and purchasing tracking and overlaying it with various data points depending on the sentiment information brands are seeking.

"For us, it's looking at that sentiment analysis that used to be very broad and high-level...we can now track that down to the store-level," Dickey said. "We can definitely stay on the sentiment behavior analysis from a brand, but we can region, district, and store that. Get it down to the micro-level."

Technology for Training

Aside from predictive analytics, brands are now incorporating technology into employee training. How does tech facilitate this process? Through providing consistent and clear communication.

No one knows this better than Director of Training and Development at The Habit Burger, Michele Lange, as two years ago, the Habit Burger created a proprietary training system and moved away from paper-based to tablet-based training.

"We created that into an online system, so now we're able to train in stores, use the tablets, capture all of that documentation, and then what that does is actually [link to] training audits, as well. So, that's really helping us to speed up that process," Lange said. 

The system creates a single, consistent, solid training standard. Where instruction used to vary by location or manager, the system provides every location manager all the answers and the training process in one tablet, echoing the brand's training motto of "One Habit, One Sound." 

Dive deeper into the restaurant tech trends of 2016 by watching the full episode.