Like many industries, the Food and Beverage market is going through significant changes in both customer attitudes and the technology and processes that businesses can use to meet these new demands. On February 4th, 170 Oracle food and beverage (F&B) customers and vendors from around the world gathered in sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida to share some of their experiences at the inaugural Oracle F&B Connect Conference: a three-day showcase of Oracle F&B’s core products and strategies. The bottom line was that it’s an industry in major technological flux and starving for innovative change. Here are some of the takeaways.
The Connect Conference highlighted a major challenge in the industry: guest expectations drive technology, but the rates at which expectations and technology change make it difficult to integrate all the disparate systems effectively, or at all. Omnichannel transactions are a relevant example, and a huge pain point in the industry today. According to Oracle F&B, 90 percent of transactions will be digital by 2023. Restaurants commonly implement a temporary solution to a permanent problem by adding unintegrated systems to manage each channel, causing a slew of operational issues because nothing is connected. This disconnected tech severs the guest experience at the heels, increasing human error and operator confusion.
Digital Darwinism – Survival of the Selective
Food and Beverage technology is evolving fast, and the propensity for a restaurant chain to bolt on solutions that don’t correctly solve problems, or that will be quickly obsolete, is higher than ever. Tech companies are challenged with serving their customers with solutions that provide a proven route forward and keep them suffering due to the relentless waves of technology. There was one overarching theme at this year’s conference: with seemingly endless pain points and a limited IT budget to solve them, how can today’s restaurant operator select the right solutions while providing the best ROI? Being selective also means understanding what your priorities are and what will lead to success. The informative roundtable session demystified new technology as it relates to many relevant topics like kitchen management, omnichannel, data science, inventory management and loyalty.
The Answer: Simplify and Integrate to Dominate
An obvious priority for the Oracle F&B team and other F&B tech players is to drive integrations to make data more easily consumable, share information in real time with other systems, make innovation quickly adoptable with app store-like capabilities and provide simplified user interfaces.
“If solutions are feature rich and full of functionality, but you need to be a rocket scientist to use them, they’re not any good,” said Chris Adams, Oracle’s VP of Strategy who shared insights into product development.
There’s an obvious priority across the food and beverage tech landscape to provide a clear path for customers to move from outdated legacy systems to cloud-based platforms that allow for quick and easy updates and integration.