Posts Tagged ‘POS systems’

Restaurant Operating Systems Are On the Horizon; Is Your Restaurant Ready for the Shift?

February 7, 2014

Restaurateurs have dreamt of a unified restaurant business technology platform for years. Development has been limited due to a lack of standards, action from established providers to eliminate competition and a proprietary development environment. Fortunately, cloud-based data warehouses, and standards like HTML5, now make the development of an integrated restaurant business operating system possible with relative ease. It’s only a matter of time before the first versions of a restaurant equivalent of Windows or iOS are available.

This availability will rapidly spark additional innovations, further expand competition, and provide a badly needed common language to exchange data between a variety of applications. This technology stands to be the biggest technical innovation in the restaurant industry since the introduction of integrated POS systems. Here are three key strategies you can employ to ensure that your restaurant is ready for the shift.

Ensure Your Restaurant Supports Open Vendors

At this point in the game, realization of the restaurant operating system dream is a possibility.  It relies largely on the cooperation of business solution providers to make their services available through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and Software Development Kits (SDKs). Open architecture is a critical element of a restaurant operating system that can be rapidly adopted throughout the industry. 

Unfortunately, many vendors take the opposite approach, and try to lock restaurant operators into expensive proprietary software which doesn’t interface with anything but itself. Others do make their APIs and SDKs available, but with a price tag so high that it’s out of reach for a startup developer. Either way, it’s limiting the ability of third-party developers to create the software for which we’re waiting. 

As a restaurant, it’s in your best interest to both support development of the technology you want, as well as to position your business to be able to take advantage of that technology when it becomes available. Therefore, you want to ensure that all of your vendors are ready, able, and willing to integrate with other solutions from different vendors; especially those who handle your POS, payroll and gift, loyalty or enterprise reporting.

Avoid Getting Hand-Cuffed to Antiquated Restaurant Equipment

The recent burst of mobile consumer technologies stands to open a world of new avenues in terms of improvement to restaurant operations. It would be folly to dump more money into extending the life of already out-dated equipment, just as it would be foolish to find yourself hand-cuffed to a specific piece of equipment for years to come. Instead, it would be far better to carefully evaluate new options for business services that are available and make strategic choices that will enable your restaurant to easily adapt to innovative technology as it comes. 

Don’t Get Roped into Shady Arrangements with ‘Free’ Restaurant Software

When you’re strapped for cash, it’s tempting to look for free solutions. But, when it comes to POS systems, ‘free’ usually comes with a larger price than it’s worth. All too often, these developers bait an operator into signing long-term payment processing contracts, with less than scrupulous clauses, in exchange for use of their ‘freeware.’ Even worse, a lot of those contracts last for up to seven years which virtually locks your establishment out of the opportunity to take advantage of any new innovations. This simultaneously forces your business to run on antiquated software. 

The business environment for restaurant technology will continue to evolve and there are some exciting changes on the horizon. Making smart decisions about your technological investments now will help ensure that you are in a position to take advantage of new restaurant technology and can stay ahead of the competition without having to completely restructure your business.