2020 Restaurant Technology Study Reveals 5 Surprises

At the MURTEC Conference in Las Vegas, Hospitality Technology released their 2020 Restaurant Technology Study – the 22nd edition of this annual report. Here we break down the key takeaways from the study. 

2020 Restaurant Technology Study

Restaurants can’t do anything without technology any more. In fact, its been said by multiple brands that they see themselves as technology companies that just happen to sell pizza/subs/burgers/food.

Attendees of MURTEC, the multi-unit restaurant technology conference, know this. They are some of the ones that said this. They’re successful because they come to events like this year after year, and place emphasis on the need to drive performance, customer experiences and growth strategies with the right technology at the right time.

Today, Hospitality Technology released their 2020 Restaurant Technology Study – the 22nd edition of this annual report.

Respondents of the survey were responsible for IT decisions across a total of 26,409 stores, of which 24% were global brands, 22% national and 54% regional. For these reasons and other characteristics of this broad reaching survey, the report holds weight that any restaurant operator should measure themselves again.

Nothing beats digesting the whole story in the report, so below we’ll highlight the key findings that came out at the big reveal at MURTEC 2020 in Las Vegas.  

Smartbridge is a platinum sponsor of this year’s upcoming Restaurant Technology Study.

See what we believe to be the 4 priorities for restaurants in 2020.

The Smartbridge Guide to MURTEC 2020

64% of restaurants plan to increase their IT budgets by 2020. Why is this intriguing? We compared this number to 2019’s report, of only 44%. What prompted this 20% increase? We suspect that as legacy systems and dated business models become more… well, dated, those things that were shelved in the past are having to be addressed now or never.  

In fact, the top challenge reported supports that theory. 39% of respondents say that legacy systems (hardware and software) are holding them back. Raj Suri of Presto spoke on the MURTEC panel regarding the study. He pointed out that restaurants should reduce reliance on legacy systems instead of the “rip and replace” approach.

14% of IT budgets will go towards R&D innovation – this is generally stable, as it was reported to be 17% last year. We love to see restaurants experimenting and planning to future-proof their business!

Regarding strategy, respondents were asked to rank their priorities when it comes to complex goals that focus on growth and business performance. The top tier strategic objectives that will absorb the most technology investment are as follows: 

2020 Restaurant Technology Study Statistics

What does this tell us? For one, it reinforces that your focus as an operator should lie with the trend of creating custom or seamless experiences. Tailoring the experience has been difficult in the digital world (addressing allergies, preferences, dietary restrictions). But this is an investment that companies have to make sooner or later.

Another panelist, Jeff Bradbury of Hughes, noted that using IT to begin addressing labor challenges is interesting. Indeed, with AI solutions coming to market that help automate and forecast labor scheduling (ask Smartbridge about this if it hits a nerve for you too), there is more opportunity for IT to branch out their roles in HR and operations. We’ve seen this with KitchIntel, our solution accelerator that tells cook staff when to cook, turn and waste food. The value of reduced staff training has been seen as a significant benefit of deploying an automation tool such as KitchIntel.

Let’s look back to the top item on that list. The largest percentage of investment is in reducing operating costs. Shocker. As Alan Hickey of Vromo (another panelist) points out, that’s an obvious one. But you have to spend money to reduce costs. And often, people may need to address what is the particular problem you are trying to solve.  

One final grabber for us was a callout to systems integration. As a company that has been doing this exact thing for restaurants for 17 years, we’re happy (relieved?) to see it fall from #4 in the challenges list, to #6 with a 10% decrease from 2019. Hospitality Tech says that restaurants feel it “is more achievable”.

So why comb through Hospitality Technology’s report at length? Do you have the time? Maybe a better question to answer is – are you matching the pace of the marketplace? In April, Hospitality Tech will host a webinar regarding the findings in the study, in which our CEO will be one of the panelists. Join us as we explore some of the reasoning behind these results.

There’s much more to unpack in the study than we included here, so be sure to take the time to view the full report from Hospitality Technology.

View the Full Report

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