Running a restaurant is a lot more than just creating quality food. It’s a dynamic business, impacted by many internal and external factors. Technology has been evolving how restaurants run, and expert Dirk Izzo, President & GM at NCR Hospitality, offered insights on what’s happening now and what to expect.

The pandemic accelerated tech adoption in hospitality like no other single event. “At NCR, we’re all about keeping commerce running. That looks somewhat different today, as we’ve gone into innovation mode,” Izzo said.

Consumers still want food from their favorite restaurants. How they order and receive it is different. “The QR code is big. We developed apps and deployed them quickly to allow diners to scan the QR code, place an order, then pay at the end in a contactless way. We put that in place for an independent restaurant. Within two weeks, half of orders were coming in this way,” Izzo commented.

Izzo also described restaurants that are doing it well and why. “They are creating exceptional digital experiences and often linking loyalty programs to this. From this data, they can personalize offerings based on behaviors like seeing the top things the customer orders most at the top. They can also upsell and cross-sell more easily,” he added.

NCR’s commitment to innovation included a remote hackathon. “We opened up APIs and provided developers with current problems, and they applied creative ways to overcome them. We have one of those ideas in productizing now,’ Izzo remarked.

Technology is also enabling better drive-thru experiences that are faster and more efficient. Curbside experiences are getting more attention, which could change the future of a restaurant’s footprint. Izzo noted, “They are going to need bigger parking lots, but inside dining areas will shrink.”

What’s in the innovation pipeline for the restaurant industry? Izzo shared, “Evolving consumer experiences with technology, offering better forecasting tools for GMs that use AI-based learning, and ghost kitchens for scaling are some of the big ones.”

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