Close the Innovation Gap

By Abigail A. Lorden, Editor-in-Chief | March 01, 2012

Technology exists to enable the business. any IT executive worth their salt will stress the importance of this approach to enabling not only successful IT initiatives, but successful businesses. For decades, technology has been a business enabler: consider the impact that the fax machine had in the 1970s, the computer in the 1980s, the Internet in the 1990s. These tools fundamentally changed the way that every organization communicated with key stakeholders, kept records, and processed transactions.

In the restaurant industry, despite the massive impact of technology on modern operations, there exists a disconnect between how innovative a business wants to be, and how willing they are to innovate through technology. In HT's 2012 Restaurant Technology Study, this is illustrated in the gap between companies that identify themselves as business innovators (60%) and those that see themselves as technology innovators (31%). The gap ­— the missing 29% — believes in their ability to innovate as a business, but undervalues the importance of technology to that mission.

Further evidence of this trend is shown in the percentage of restaurant organizations that have a formalized approach to technology innovation: just 38% of respondants in our study leverage IT steering committees to make decisions, and even fewer (14.5%) have a reference to strategic IT planning as a part of their mission statements.

As a part of my outreach to connect with IT leaders, I often scan the "about our executives" pages on the websites of major hospitality organizations. All too often, IT leaders are omitted from pages that include bios about C- and VP-level executives from marketing, finance, operations, real estate, franchise development, and human resources. If your organization has a CIO or VP of technology, acknowledge the department’s impact on overall business innovation. The most successful companies will be those that close this innovation gap.


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