Why Send a Man to the Moon?

Keeping technology simple and applicable is as important as bells and whistles

In the November edition of FE&S, Joe Carbonara wrote an article titled "Tackling Technology." Right on Joe! What an appropriate topic for this magazine and the readers.

Joe provides several examples of technology applications, including one of my favorites, using tablets to take orders. If I had a penny for each time that I get embroiled in a conversation about how the foodservice industry can leverage iPads and other tablet computers to resolve an industry issue, I would be a rich man — before taxes that is.

He mentions that as an industry we must continue to explore technological advances, but makes an interesting closing comment on how important it is to do this with a practical application. Amen! At the end of the day if foodservice-related technology does not gather industry acceptance by solving practical challenges, then it was just a great research and development exercise for us engineers.

As suppliers and consultants, we get enamored with providing jazzy and sophisticated solutions that have many bells and whistles, which can resolve all the possible combinations and permutations of foodservice operator issues. While I am not knocking this type of enthusiasm, I would say that one must evaluate each solution carefully, especially if it is going to add cost to the application, or if it is going to make using the tool more challenging. I cannot tell you how many times I come across great revolutionary technology that falls short of being embraced by the end user, due to its complexity and/or its cost. A few months ago, I wrote a blog post titled "Less is More," which touched on this subject.

As we begin to design or modify the design of an operating platform or a new piece of foodservice equipment, keeping in mind the ergonomic capabilities of the user, both physical and cognitive, it is critical to ensure success of the application. Simply put, place the team member or user needs at the center of the application and design the device from this perspective. This is what we would call an employee-centric approach to design, one that starts from the inside and works its way out.

While taking this approach may not end up with the most sophisticated and jazzy application the industry has seen, it may facilitate engagement and acceptance by the user, which should translate into more sales and a more effective and efficient operation, the ultimate goal and measure of true success for all of us. After all, our organizations are not in existence for the fame, but rather for the fortune. Show me the money!

It is important to remember that in order to deliver a higher level of profits and customer hospitality you must go through the employees, for they are the ones that truly control the customer experience. To support the needs of the employees, keeping the technology simpler and following a "less is more" approach may be the right way. Consider this the next time you are trying to tackle a technology issue.

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