Enhancing Guest Experience through Technology

Eric Rosenzweig, CIO, Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp
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Eric Rosenzweig, CIO, Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp

1) Crafting a Meaningful Mobile Experience

a. I believe that Mobile is definitely the biggest technology trend impacting the restaurant industry, as it’s affecting all businesses and all industries. The ability for people to research, transact and communicate with our business via mobile is what people expect. While we’ve done some work in mobile, we’re trying to find what our guests believe is a meaningful mobile experience. We don’t want to create an app for the sake of creating an app. Along these lines, technology that would allow us to know when you’re in our area or in our restaurant so we can present an offer or let you know what’s on the menu is something we’re exploring as well, but again it has to be meaningful and avoid being creepy. Data, and the use of data, whether you call it “Big” or not, is also shaping the way we do business. Hence solutions that allow analysts and others to get to data, explore data, and come up with ideas to test based on the data, is more critical than ever. This is only going to get more critical as we have more data to analyze.

2) The Advantages of the SaaS Model

a. We’ve done a few things that are helping drive innovation. One is that we’re moving our home grown core applications into a SaaS model. We’re in the midst of these deployments now and, when completed, will allow my team to be much more focused on working with the business to get the most out of our core applications and creating new applications that drive the business. By moving to SaaS and other cloud technology, we’re now able to be much more agile in finding solutions and, where necessary, creating our own. I encourage my team to be part of the business, work the cash register, see how an invoice is processed, etc. to ensure that they really understand the challenges our departments face on a daily basis.

b. Embracing the Change

c. IT has to be much more adaptive. By that I mean IT and CIOs have to be much more adaptive to change in the business and be agile enough to provide solutions much quicker than ever before. Fortunately, cloud-based technology allows us to try solutions much faster as we’re not standing up hardware, networking, storage, etc. every time we create something new. IT and CIO’s need to adapt to these changes and embrace them. If we don’t, we’re going to be left.

In Tune With Guests

d. I don’t think the Travel and Hospitality business is facing many challenges that are unique to the industry. Mobile, social, data and the use of cloud are challenges we all face. IT needs to be fully engaged with the rest of the business to make sure that the solutions that are chosen or are built fully meet the needs of the organization. I believe that our industry needs to be much more in tune with our guest’s needs and create or find solutions that work well for our guests and allow better engagement and better experiences. There’s no one silver bullet and that’s the fun of being in IT right now. The potential for meeting our guest’s needs through technology have never been greater.

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