friends using disruptive technology in restaurantDisruptive technology is making an impact on the restaurant industry. Solutions that leverage customers’ smartphones to collect data are providing restaurateurs with insights they are using to make fact-based business decisions. The more big data you collect, the more actionable knowledge you have that can help you improve your business.

Big data is numbers and information. The faster and more accurately you access and analyze it, the more effectively you’ll improve your business. Big data, generated from both disruptive technology and more traditional sources, can originate:

  • Inside a business: Structured data from inside your business includes point of sale (POS) data that reveals which menu items are selling and at what price. It also encompasses product availability and price information from ingredient and other suppliers; accounting figures pertaining to costs, revenues, and margins; and labor data, specifically wages, salaries, and tips paid to employees.
  • Outside a business: Data from outside your business can include social media “likes,” shares, trends, and comments, and information from customer profiles and loyalty programs such as names, addresses, email addresses, and preferences. You may also track things such as weather or traffic patterns to learn their impact on your business.

Data from inside your business tells you what is happening, for example, the average number of hamburger orders per day is exceeding cheeseburger orders. Data from outside your business, much collected by disruptive technology solutions, tells you why — in this case social media reveals cheeseburger sales are lagging because customers don’t like the cheese from a new supplier.

Big data’s value encompasses more than creating the perfect menu. Your business can benefit from big data insights from:

  • Labor expenditures: Big data lets you compare labor costs to sales, overtime pay, absenteeism, and costs by department and employee. You can also gauge server efficiency by average check size, tips, amount of time spent at the table, types of entrees sold, and compliance with upselling instructions. This information can be used to create schedules that better match your restaurant’s needs, as well as to motivate and incentivize enhanced staff performance.
  • Customer experiences: Big data can be used to build customer profiles that allow you to engage customers and personalize their dining experience based on their preferences and spending habits. For example, enabling a server to access this on a mobile POS tablet allows them to make recommendations and upsell based on the customer’s previous purchases.
  • Loyalty programs: Big data can help you create loyalty programs with promotions targeted towards specific customers based on their likes and dislikes. Some restaurateurs pair their customer data with other data, such as spending information from third-party firms. This information can also be used to formulate better-targeted marketing strategies.
  • Inventory waste: Big data allows you to identify waste and adjust inventory. For example if purchasing records show you’re ordering a certain amount of a perishable ingredient to prepare an entrée but a comparison with sales indicates sales of that entrée are slow, you can adjust the amount you order.

Big data analysis is the key to building a better business, and disruptive technology offers many new opportunities to collect the data you need. Explore how the data you collect can unlock insights into more efficient operations and higher profits.