Better and cheaper computer processing, data storage and data transmission capabilities will mean big changes are in store for foodservice technology by 2020, said Daniel Burrus, founder and chief executive of Burrus Research Associates Inc. and author of “Technotrends: How to Use Technology to Go Beyond Your Competition” and “Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible.”
“It’s all very easy to track,” Burrus said, projecting that by 2020 there will be wearable devices that enter and manage guests’ spoken meal orders using “intelligent agent” software akin to Apple’s virtual aide, Siri, on steroids. “The question is, which restaurant or which restaurant chain is going to decide to use it first?”
But even as technology evolves, hospitality will remain key, said Geoff Alexander, executive vice president and managing partner for the Wow Bao quick-service Asian restaurant group at Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises Inc.
“What I am really looking forward to is ‘hospitality’ via tech,” he said. “It has to be about enhancing the customer experience, not just making my life [as an operator] easier.”
Here are more predictions for 2020:
• Guest self-ordering at counter- and full-service concepts will be done either online prior to arriving or on-site via tabletop interface, consumer smartphone or tablet, or by kiosk, according to several industry observers.
“These technologies would leverage historical purchasing habits based on a profile, [with] suggestive selling tied back into user preferences and modeling of the restaurant product offering to enhance the customer experience,” said Phil Crawford, chief information officer for My Fit Foods Inc. in Austin, Texas. “[Combine] that data with emerging GPS and geolocate technology, and now you can entice those previous visitors to come back more often by customizing messaging.”
• Mobile point-of-sale devices will be used by a significant percentage of employees at all but high-end restaurants as costs decline, maintenance options increase and operators seek greater operational efficiency and flexibility, said Lee Holman, lead retail analyst at IHL Group in Franklin, Tenn.
Such devices include tablets; ruggedized, special-purpose terminals; smartphones; iPod Touches; and wearable printers, he said.