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An Appetite for Digital Transformation
17th December 2019

Digital transformation is redefining business models and processes across every sector today. Adopting technological innovations is a must for enterprises, lest they are rendered uncompetitive against more agile competitors. The range of digital solutions is now so comprehensive that even industries that are primarily centered around the skill and productivity of their workforces, in the past, are discovering the advantages they can gain from these upgrades. One such, supposedly ‘old school’ industry is the food service and restaurant business. Thanks to digital technology, hospitality establishments, and restaurants are transforming their operating models and enhancing the customer experience in ways that signifies a clear departure from the past. The digital bandwagon has well and truly arrived in the restaurant business, and businesses are hopping on board for the ride. 

The food service industry is no stranger to the concept of a special ingredient, the addition of which takes one of its creations to the next level. In the case of digital transformation, the recipe may not be one that harks back to grandma’s kitchen, but it’s having an equally dramatic impact. From social media presence and online services to optimized back end processes – such as rostering, inventory, purchasing and more – the food service business is discovering how a quintessentially ‘human’ industry too can gain from the brave new digital world.

As early as 2015-16, Pizza Hut in Hong Kong became one of the earliest enthusiastic adopters of digital technology in its market. The extraordinary success of its Social CRM strategy not only extended the available platforms and channels through which they communicated with their customers, but their use of the Microsoft Azure platform also revolutionized their corporate website, online and app-based ordering system, as well as completely replacing a physical card system in their loyalty program(1). The dynamic scaling that a public cloud IaaS allows their operations to integrate now gives Pizza Hut Hong Kong the ability to react with flexible procurement and resource allocation in minutes. The addition of a single feature based on real-time feedback, to a website or mobile app, can draw huge customer traffic. The app for Chipotle, the famous Mexican food chain, became one of the most downloaded because of the addition of a single simple feature. The company’s inclusion of instructions as to which designated drive-in lane customers could pick up their orders from, increased downloads by a staggering 50%(2).  

Enthusiastic adoption of digital solutions is not limited to the fast-food end of the food service industry. The restaurant industry affiliate of Trip Advisor, The Fork, reports that respected culinary schools, such as the CETT in Barcelona or the Basque Culinary Center in Gipuzkoa, are including training on how to best leverage digital tools, in their curriculum(3). Fortune 500 listed Darden Restaurants, incorporated a customer-focused digital initiative – based on data and cross channel engagement – to raise the bar on customer experience, at their Olive Garden restaurant as well as other fine dining establishments(4).

Microsoft Dynamics 365 provides the foodservice and restaurant industry with a comprehensive ‘end-to-end’ solution that is fully customizable to their needs and current operational model. The solution enhances foodservice businesses through integrated CRM and ERP and cloud technology that leverages multi-platform and multi-channel access, to enable agile management and enhanced customer engagement.

How digital transformation is making a difference in the restaurant business

Between the process efficiencies that were enabled and the reinvented customer-facing model, it’s no surprise that the food service industry is becoming another highly active arena of digital transformation. Some of the transformative upgrades specific to the restaurant and food service business that digital solutions such as Dynamics 365 enable include:

  • Next-gen digital assistance. Online platforms can be further enhanced with the use of chatbots, virtual assistants and recommendation engines to deliver the sort of experience that the next generation of customers has to expect. AI, especially with the advent of natural language and speech recognition will set unprecedented standards in customer service within the very near future.
  • Personalized guest experiences. Restaurants – especially high-end establishments – recognize the advantages of human interaction as a key element of their operations. Nevertheless, there is an increasing awareness of the highly personalized levels of service that the introduction of cognitive machines as tools can introduce. Early adopters are reporting a positive customer response and this model of service is likely to find many takers. 
  • Data-driven insights. As with other industries, data is now a valuable asset in the restaurant industry as well. More and more operators are seeking to leverage their data strategically to shift more goods and services to maximize profit. From customer-specific information to demographic trends, data relating to favorite meal combinations, seasonal preferences, and countless such individual data points can be leveraged to introduce standards of service and business efficiencies that legacy models simply can’t deliver. 
  • Optimized business services. Even the most diligent records can fail to reveal opportunities hidden within established patterns, without the intervention of cognitive technologies. Every operational aspect of a food service establishment stands to make the same gains in its capacities and quality that digital transformation has brought to other retail-based and supply dependent sectors. 

Conclusion

The highly specific requirements of the food service and restaurant business are an ideal context in which digital technology can create efficiencies and empower best practices. The very interactive nature of the industry necessitates attention to detail and getting them right. Consistently delivering the outstanding within such fine margins is a requirement that digital transformation can inherently enhance and enable.

To understand how Dynamics 365 can help your food service business perform to its optimum potential, please reach out to us at marketing@levtechconsulting.com

  1. https://customers.microsoft.com/en-sg/story/pizza-hut-azure-retail-consumer-goods
  2. https://www.adweek.com/digital/fast-food-brands-are-making-slick-mobile-apps-to-stay-ahead-of-small-fast-casual-restaurants/
  3. https://www.theforkmanager.com/blog/the-restaurant-the-digital-age/
  4. https://www.photon.in/success-stories/olive-garden-serves-up-rich-customer-experiences-through-mobile

 

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