Are the tides finally turning in restaurant IT investment’s favor? It would seem so. Each year, Hospitality Technology’s Restaurant Technology Study
surveys its subscribers to better understand the information technology trends and challenges affecting foodservice. In 2010, the economy’s tight grip continued, as restaurants reported a drop in business metrics across the board. In this year’s study however, the industry is starting to see the first signs of an economic upturn. Business metrics, including average guest check values, gross revenue and guest counts, are up compared to in 2010; all of this positively affects IT spending. An overall examination of companies’ IT budgets as a percentage of revenue reveals that restaurants are allocating more money toward IT budgets in 2011 than they did in 2009 or 2010. Responses show that the biggest share of the IT budget goes to internal personnel (37%), followed by software (24%), hardware (15%), external service providers (10%), and compliance (i.e. PCI Compliance; 9%).
Although the negative trend in business and information technology metrics has stopped for the first time in a number of years, the industry still looks to IT to cut costs and increase efficiency. In 2011, 58% of respondents reported productivity/efficiency to be the top driver for their company’s IT efforts; meanwhile 52% identified cost-saving measures as their top driver. This trend is reflected in respondents’ top point-of-sale (POS) system functions, with 79% of respondents identifying accounting/financials to be the most important function, followed by labor management at 72%. When it comes to their top POS system features, respondents voted credit card swipes (83%) and touchscreens (71%) as the top two features. While credit card swipes are essential to processing credit and debit cards, the ease-of-use of the latter can significantly improve productivity and reduce costs.