If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the restaurant technology options available today and where they seem to be taking restaurants, you might be relieved to hear about the key themes that emerged from FSTEC, the annual conference of foodservice information executives and technology vendors. A Nation’s Restaurant News report from the event, which was held in Dallas in late September, indicated that it was less about robots and the flashier side of tech than it was about back-of-house software solutions and a general sense of caution about finding technology that provides the best value. Restaurant operators are watching their spending right now and feeling cautious about stepping into new territory with technology. There was a focus on how tech can support back-of-house efficiency – how restaurants can marry AI and operational data to better manage tasks such as inventory management and employee scheduling, for example. Further, there was some push and pull between the need for technology and the desire to provide traditional hospitality. How is your business balancing the two?
As restaurants progressively become more like tech companies that happen to serve food, a restaurant’s technology spending and tech-driven earnings will take on ever-greater importance. According to a recent report from Nation’s Restaurant News, the average “digitally sophisticated” restaurant chain spends approximately 2-4 percent of their sales on technology. This calculation can be difficult to come to for a restaurant with dozens of pieces of software and peripheral equipment, but consider it something to work toward – particularly as you look to invest in new tech. Knowing your return on investment for your existing tech stack can help you ask critical questions when the next tech-driven solution comes around.