Blog: Lockdown -a time to future-proof your tech stack
Tech plays a vital role in hospitality, solving current challenges and helping to future-proof businesses. Is your ops tech stack due a review?
In one episode of the cartoon South Park, the Underpant Gnomes have a plan. Step 1: Collect underpants. Step 3: Profit! As for Step 2… well, there isn’t a Step 2.
Some IT projects are a bit like that. You know that the right platform can deliver measurable improvements. You’ve got the budget you need and the green light to go ahead. Now what? It’s a good idea to make sure you have a Step 2.
Making the case for change
We know that the right IT solution will improve things. The key is to identify what those things are, and what improvements you expect to see. For example, you might want real-time table management linked to reservations so that you can accept last-minute bookings online, or via a central telephone team. Or you might want to monitor conversion rates from email marketing offers. Or you might want to analyse your EPoS data to gain a better understanding of customer behaviour and spend.
This stage is crucial, because it defines the parameters your solution needs to work within. A system that analyses online bookings but not walk-ins isn’t much help if you have significant walk-in traffic. A system that’s built for a Windows PC in the reception area may not talk to mobile devices such as iPads. A system that doesn’t include purchasing and inventory management won’t identify potential savings in those areas. And an online system that doesn’t work on users’ mobiles is an online system doomed to failure.
Conversely, you might not need to upgrade your entire organisation at once. Simply combining two technology solutions such as online reservations and EPoS might tick all the boxes at the moment, with future integration planned for the much longer term.
This stage isn’t just important in terms of the project specification. It’s also important for overcoming potential obstacles to the project success. If key stakeholders in your organisation don’t understand the reasons for change and the benefits of change, they may prove difficult to convince – and that means they could make your project much more difficult to implement.
How much change can you handle?
No two organisations are the same. Some businesses spend months planning, testing and preparing for an IT roll-out. Others complete the entire process in weeks. That isn’t a reflection of their scale, either. Some of the largest, most complex businesses have the shortest roll-outs, while small, niche businesses sometimes need much more time.
And different businesses have different requirements. For some, it’s a move to an entirely new system across the entire organisation. For others, it’s an ongoing process where systems are upgraded according to priority. You might integrate EPoS and reservations now for example, with other integrations coming later.
In practice that means any solution provider offering a cookie-cutter, one size fits all solution should be pelted with bread rolls until they leave the building. As Abraham Maslow put it back in 1966, “it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” In other words, technology is simply a tool to improve your business. If the provider doesn’t understand your specific business requirements, their system is unlikely to meet those requirements either now or in the future.
Twelve key questions to ask about any proposed solution
In addition to the usual questions about hardware and software compatibility, scale, uptime guarantees and timescales, there are several key questions your potential solution provider should be able to answer.
There’s a good chance that some or all of these questions are relevant to your particular circumstances, so take a moment to consider each area:
And finally… one key question to ask about the entire project
How will all this improve your business and your offer to your customers? How could you handle discounting better, drive increased frequency, and improve guest experience? How could you capture and use data to understand and respond to customer behaviour more effectively?
In short: what is your current state, where do you want to get to, and how can technology help you get there?
Any solution provider offering a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits all solution should be pelted with bread rolls until they leave the building.