Technologies for F&B have advanced considerably over the past few years. There are plenty of options for business owners to optimise their operations. However, the leap in advancement has also brought upon a lot of confusions. Many people mindlessly adopt technologies without knowing what they are and how they work. They base their adoption on biased recommendations and buzzwords. In trying to modernise their operations, these businesses unwittingly introduce more discrepancies.
In Southeast Asia, the technical solution market is commonly divided into tech solution providers and consultants. Tech solution providers are experts in their own products and tools. Meanwhile, tech consultants are advisory services that suggest technologies to businesses to optimise performance. These are services that are required if a business wants to engage in DX without an in-house research and development team.
Ideally, the tech solution should comprise different compatible products and services that support restaurant operations. However, there is a tendency for many tech solution providers to offer a single one-size-fit-all product to cover as many features as possible to appeal to the widest range of use cases. One possible reason for this is because they usually have little incentive to do organisational change or do deeper integration with other unique operations in small and medium restaurants. In the end, this causes small businesses to adopt superfluous technology that may not guarantee revenue and profit.
Simultaneously, tech consultants are hired to fill in that organisation-wide transformative role to modernise businesses. They are supposed to analyse different business strategies and match them with the current processes. Consultative services are generally not cheap as consultants have to spend significant time interviewing the staff and designing new operational flows. To save time and effort, some consultants only recommend products to which they are affiliated with.
To make matters worse, some consultants use ‘industry standards’ to design the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) , which may not be suitable for small or medium restaurants. For example, the SOP may assume clearly defined roles like those found within large franchises or organisations. But in a small business, it is typical for employees to take on multiple roles. Hence to adopt the SOPs, small businesses may need to hire additional headcount which they cannot afford. Furthermore, consultants may not ensure enforcement of the SOPs; instead pushing this burden to the managers.
Consultants need to be practicing more empathy in this aspect to try and craft an SOP that is appropriate for the current stage of the business instead of insisting on ‘that’s not how other companies do it’.