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The Rise of Business Intelligence in the Restaurant Industry

Hospitality Technology's most recent Restaurant Technology Study reveals that restaurants are tightening budgets in order to drive more efficiency from their current IT investments. To find more efficiencies, restaurants are turning to larger business intelligence practices.
The Rise of Business Intelligence in the Restaurant Industry

Yesterday marked the official kickoff to MURTEC 2018. If you aren't familiar with the show or acronym, MURTEC - the Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference - is one of the restaurant industry's premier trade shows.

After packing up my bag for Agilence's second MURTEC experience, I had a few hours at the airport to catch-up on the perceptions of big data and business intelligence across the restaurant industry. I flipped through Hospitality Technology's most recent Restaurant Technology Study; not only was it a concise read, but it was also filled with a variety of powerful data points.

Let's start with the spending shifts that are on the horizon for the restaurant industry. In 2017, overall restaurant IT budgets actually dropped by 2%, a 0.6% decrease from the budget allocated in 2016. For us in the technology space, that number is slightly alarming but once you analyze the situation further there is an interesting story unfolding.

This purse tightening appears to be less trepidation about investing in technology and instead, it's more about welcoming in a data-driven mindset to restaurant operations. Restaurant operators are beginning to turn to business intelligence and data analytics solutions to not only better serve their customers but to also drive more value from their other technology investments. Driving more personalized technological engagement within their locations can only occur when operators begin earmarking dollars specifically for IT but also making sure their current tools are running efficiently. 

Luckily, the study found that in 2018, 47% of restaurant operators plan to increase their technology budgets whereas only 7% plan to decrease. Furthermore, 56% of the restaurant operators who self-identify as "data leaders" and 54% of the restaurants who consider themselves "technology innovators" are also looking to increase IT budgets in 2018 too.

Data Analytics in Restaurants

In addition to IT budget planning, the study also looked into the perceptions of operators on their overall company-wide data adequacy. Operators were asked to rank companies as better than, at par with, or lagging behind competitors in their use of data and analytics. The image to the left shows that from 2017 to 2018, 9% more companies have moved into the category of “Better than the Competition” when discussing their use of data and analytics. This is an encouraging sign if you are a believer in data-driven decision making but it still rings of opportunity too. While business intelligence needs appear to be addressed, at what level are these businesses able to assess the good, the bad and the ugly of their operation? I feel like in the next few years we will start seeing benchmarking done on the level of "data depth" a restaurant can access through their analytics practices. Surface-level reporting will only suffice for so long until restaurant operators insist that they are able to take a "deeper" dive into all of their transactional data.

Finally, it is very clear that consumers now expect an easy, seamless experience across a multitude of industries; much of this has been driven by the ease of use tech giants like Amazon and Google provide on a daily basis. Because of this "driving digital engagement" has been named a top strategic goal by 53% of restaurant operators for 2018 and it goes without saying that this drive for deeper digital engagement will inherently lead to more and more consumer data that needs to be protected, mined, and made actionable.

Learn more about how enterprise data analytics can be used to improve profits, increase sales, and drive action across restaurant locations, download our eBook “Data-Powered Dining: Leveraging Data Analytics to Grow your Restaurant Chain.”

Data Analytics for Restaurants

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