The future is out there

22 November 2007
The future is out there

Technology plays a vital role in any successful operation, argues Tony O'Shaughnessy, chief executive of software firm ABS

When you boil it down, hospitality is about providing memorable moments for any occasion, from a simple night out with family and friends to weddings, birthdays or a day at Royal Ascot. And as technology has become more pervasive in our daily lives, it has become increasingly important for hospitality businesses to understand the role that IT can play in helping to create those experiences.

It is crucial for hospitality operators to know what kinds of technology are out there and to understand how it can help to achieve business goals. But the winners will be not only those who understand technology and its applications, but those who know how to deploy it.

For instance, the importance of outsourcing is becoming increasingly clear. It provides economies of scale, speed to market and flexibility as the technology changes, while enabling you to keep pace with a market that demands innovation. As the supply chain changes, you need to recognise this and be able to react to it.

Intelligent application of technology can also bring a multitude of benefits, such as understanding and enforcing purchasing discipline, transparency of pricing, managing financial exposure and rapid access to vital information with which to steer your business through an ever-changing landscape.

I believe the notion of having your business at your fingertips is a reality and that the days of costly, risky and unwieldy large-scale projects are rapidly disappearing.

In the long term we are heading toward a future in which you will seek instant feedback from your customers on their experience, which in turn will lead to alteration of the menu or recipe, which in turn will feed your procurement and pricing modules, which in turn will generate orders and start the process for fulfilment and push right back through the supply chain.

But a word of caution must be spoken here. At all times you must remember that the key to getting the most out of technology is learning how to combine technology with people. As Microsoft founder Bill Gates said: "Automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify efficiency. Automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency."

"The winners will be not only those who understand technology… but those who know how to deploy it" - perhaps our robot waiters should wear bow ties and aprons

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