From 'tradigital' consumers and Zero Effort Payment to biometric scanners and iPads that make wine pairing suggestions, the Society for Foodservice Management (SFM) focused on “Technologies of Today, Trends of Tomorrow” at its recent Critical Issues Conference. The speakers included…
• Danna Vetter, vice president of consumer strategies for Aramark,
• Scott Snyder, PhD, chief strategy officer for high tech firm Mobiquity,
• Jonathan Pryor, director of sales for software vendor Agilysis, and
• Stefan Saroiu, PhD, a mobile computing researcher at Microsoft Research in Redmond, WA.
There was also a panel that discussed how technology is impacting foodservice in the Pinellas County (FL) Public Schools. It included Bill Geary, manager of retail and education industries for Fujitsu Biometric Solutions Group; Bob Gottlieb, director of sales for VE South; and the director of food services for Pinellas Schools, Art Dunham. (For more, go to http://tinyurl.com/cttktye).
Pryor talked about the future of hospitality in a digital, interconnected world. He showed a video where a sommelier places guest orders on an iPad, and it makes wine recommendations based on the food order and the guest’s preferences.
Saroiu addressed a similar guest service theme. "Imagine the future of commerce," he said. "The moment you enter the door of a hotel, a restaurant, a plane, they have a lot of information about you, so you can check in without standing in line."
He noted that a system using a wireless proximity transmitter from a smartphone, combined with a facial recognition program and a validation from a human staffer could be used to trigger a ZEP (Zero Effort Payment) transaction that is convenient yet very secure.
Snyder urged attendees to “rethink your innovation model” in the face of the mobile computing revolution. By 2020, he said, seven billion people around the world will have mobile devices, and forward-thinking companies will use that to their advantage. Already, he noted, mobile computing is changing the way the consumer interacts with the foodservice industry through apps that change the path to purchase and that shape food choices (and advocacy).
In her keynote address, Vetter noted that “now, we’re looking at the ‘tradigital’ consumer versus the ‘traditional’ consumer. Today’s connected consumer is a member of the first generation of people born into technology—connected 24-7. You are now marketing to an audience with an audience of audiences” as each share information and commentary with others via social media platforms.
Vetter referred to the new Generation C (for “connected”) and noted that on average they switch media 13 times during a standard TV show. “Generation C will be 75 percent of the workforce 13 years from now,” she said. “We’re in big trouble if we don’t know how to connect to them.”