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Restaurants Serve Up New Trends in Technology

Published on Jan 8, 2016 at 4:41 pm in Tech Trends.

There are two weeks in every year when local foodies gather to relish the culinary fare of some of Nashville’s original establishments. On January 18th, Nashville Restaurant Week is back for its first flavor-filled installment of 2016.

It’s no secret that technology in the restaurant industry has exploded in recent years, with more and more guests relying on digital reviews, online reservations and mobile ordering to enhance their dining experiences. In Middle Tennessee, technology has enabled some popular spots to better keep track of their clients’ likes, milestones and experiences, which allows them to customize their guests’ future visits. Other local restaurants bring their familiar, personal appeal to enticing mobile apps and web features that lure the technologically savvy patrons.

Here’s a look at how technology is feeding the way we dine out.

Tech Lab Testing

Restaurants are seeking out untapped tech geniuses in their communities and setting up “labs” – or mock stores – where those gurus can develop ideas to help the eateries improve their operations. Everything from menus, business efficiency and seating to mobile ordering, payment and client experience is up for scrutiny.

One restaurant’s “innovation lab” near The Ohio State University looks to connect talented undergrads with its technology staff to foster new ideas. Another’s lab in Chicago’s tech hub 1871 taps into the dozens of established digital startups housed there. With Nashville’s growing technology and entrepreneur populations, it’s only a matter of time before these kinds of labs start making their debuts in our region.

Technology has a Face at the C-Level

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s were the first to do it, and now more giants of the restaurant industry are introducing a new role on their leadership team – the VP of IT. This shift is the result of increased demand from consumers for technology to be part of their dining experiences. For restaurants to be competitive, just focusing on day-to-day technology needs won’t cut it anymore. These new IT leaders are tasked with strategizing for the future, managing security to avoid data breaches and building mobile apps to help drive the business.

For local Nashville restaurant owners who play the role of CEO and CTO, technology is always top of mind. An upcoming new hot spot in Germantown plans to give its wait staff hand-held card readers so a credit card never leaves the vicinity of the client. They are also strategizing contingency plans for when connections are down and are keeping abreast of current technology regulations to make sure patrons keep coming through their doors.

Having someone in place to stay on top of the latest innovations is what will set area restaurants apart.

Restaurants are Liable for Credit Card Chip Fraud

Consumers are starting to use new credit and debit cards enabled with EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) chip technology. This new global standard for processing cards will make it harder for counterfeit cards to be created, protecting the cardholders from fraud headaches. As of October 2015, businesses that run EMV chip-enabled cards through a magnetic swipe machine will be responsible for any fraudulent charges. Therefore, it will be vital for your favorite restaurants to ensure that more than just your order is correct.

Emoji Ordering

Recent studies have shown that more than six billion text messages are sent in the United States every day, and almost 23 billion are sent daily across the globe. It’s no wonder places like Domino’s are receiving more than half of their orders through mobile devices. With the increasing dependence on mobile devices comes a new form of ordering, through tweets, texts and emojis. Clients can send a pizza emoji and get their favorite order on their doorstep. Or they can buy friends a cup of coffee through a tweet. The growing popularity of this instantaneous ordering may cause more retailers to provide the same level of convenience to their clients on an ongoing basis.

As innovators develop new technologies and consumer demands change, only time will tell what technological advances the restaurant industry—and Nashville’s specifically—will cook up next.

This post also appeared in The Tennessean, where Concept Technology has a bi-weekly feature in the Business section.