If You Build It, Will They Come?

By Reid A. Paul, Editor-in-Chief | January 08, 2007

If you build it, will they come? I imagine this is a question every hotelier or restaurateur asks him or herself at one time or another. It is a question I asked myself last year when we launched the POS Scoreboard. In our case, the answer was far from clear.

Putting together the survey with help from the HT Editorial Advisory Board, many POS software companies and editors that have created similar studies in other industries, we were careful to create something fair and balanced. Of course what constitutes "fair" depends on your vantage.
Recognizing that user responses are inherently uncontrollable, we also composed a set of criteria to balance out the scores. Companies were asked about their POS functionality, company revenue and the number of POS installations. This type of survey admittedly has advantages and disadvantages. Companies that are focused on specific foodservice markets (casino, pizza, bar and night club, etc.) suffer, while POS solutions with a broad range of POS functionality—whatever the quality—seem to benefit.

The results of the Scoreboard hold many surprises and have generated a great many responses. Part of the problem for many POS software vendors is that the restaurant industry has undergone an amazing and virtually unnoticed transformation in the last few years. POS systems—the heart and soul of a restaurant operation—are turning up in a multitude of new venues: Not just Subway restaurants, but local diners and Mom and Pops. Companies catering to these new markets are coming out of nowhere and making a name for themselves.

HT has always required that its readers have at least five units (or $5 million/year), but more than half the responses to the Scoreboard did not meet this requirement. Restaurant technology has been democratized and we all need to adjust to the new reality.

"Number of installs egregiously misrepresents the technological superiority of [our product]," wrote one irate POS vendor CEO concerned that his company was grouped with POS companies catering to the emerging market. "Your comparison completely ignores technology yet you claim to be a tech magazine."

We do in fact claim to be a technology magazine, but more appropriately, HT claims to be a voice for our readers and for IT matters in the hotel and restaurant industries. We don't try and control what the industry tells us. We just report the news (as it were).

My ultimate answer for those concerned that the Scoreboard is not fair is to answer my original question: If you build it, will they come? Last year more than 350 people completed the online survey and ten POS companies made the list. This year, 485 people took time out of their busy schedules to complete the online survey and 20 companies made the final cut. To everyone that helped make the Scoreboard work I can only say: Thank you, please come again.

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