Restaurants' Switch To Tablets Is Trouble - InformationWeek

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Restaurants' Switch To Tablets Is Trouble
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Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/12/2014 | 6:22:48 PM
Re: Love paying this way, hate ordering
@Dave: Expansion and contraction in labor markets is indeed a constant. To your point, it's a matter of luck, education, and being in the right place with the right skills at the right time. What do you think the "skills of the future" will be?
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
6/12/2014 | 2:44:09 PM
Re: Love paying this way, hate ordering
I hear you @Susan. The collateral damage will be unpleasant to say the least. But restaurants will still need servers to bring the food orders to tables and do other tasks. So I assume the role will be diminished, but not eliminated. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/12/2014 | 2:41:07 PM
Re: Love paying this way, hate ordering
@Susan- There's no doubt that you are right that the widening skills gap is a real problem. And it is a systemic one that requires reworking education, training, hiring, and countless other things. At the same time, the sky has been falling on that front for a long time. There are movies (like Katharine Hepburn's Desk Set) complaining about this problem for a couple of generations.

I can't figure out if the sky isn't falling or if it is falling really slowly. I guess it depends on how lucky you are with your education.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/12/2014 | 2:17:27 PM
Re: Moving toward a self-service world
@Dave:  I like the Amazon analogy for self-service IT. Though, perhaps we can employ all those out-of-work waitstaff to deliver the IT hardware immediately to people's desks once restaurant ordering becomes completely self-service.

Interesting, though, the same concern about jobs applies whether talking about self-service in IT or in restaurants and retail: 

The one thing i wonder about is if we automate too many of the low level support jobs in IT whether it will become a problem for IT pros. Those are usually people's first jobs and it helps them get their feet wet in a company-facing role. 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/12/2014 | 2:11:03 PM
Re: Love paying this way, hate ordering
@Dave: That's the thing, if jobs are created in the back office as a result of using these technologies in the front of the house, then those will be very different jobs requiring very different skill sets. They may not be the jobs that college kids can turn to, for example, to pay their way thru school. Or jobs that peolple who can't make it to college at all will ever be considered for.

I fear the widening skills gap will only get work as technology cotinues to advance. But because we're in such a state of transition right now, I wouldn't even know what to advise young students about where to put their energies when planning for their futures.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/12/2014 | 1:57:42 PM
Re: Restaurants' Switch To Tablets Is Trouble
@zerox203- The liquor thing is especially interesitng in some states. California recently passed a law that you can't buy booze in the self-checkout. That certainly shifts quites a few people back to the regular checkout. So much so that our self-checkout lanes are now a ghost town.

In the restaurant business, I suspect you could correct that easily by having the server check IDs when they bring the drinks. You could even have them scan a license as a preliminary step to make sure they are pranking the server.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/12/2014 | 1:54:40 PM
Re: Moving toward a self-service world
What I'm curious to know, though, is how you see this extending into the internal operations of an enterprise. For example, I know many IT organizations are looking to move toward a self-service model for things like buying and provisioning laptops and smartphones, and Intel even has vending machines in its offices where employees can use their ID cards to "purchase" USB sticks, cords, earbuds and other accessories.

Waht is the future of self-service for the IT organization? Will meeting employees' hardware needs ever become as simple as ordering  Chili Cheese Fries from a tablet app?


@Susan- Sounds liek a great article, idea. I might give you a more formal answer in the next few days. In the meantime, my short answer is that I don't think this is the same concept. I think of that more like Amazon style e-commerce. Order something and it arrives at your desk in a few weeks.

Presumably, if tied to a budget and to the right vendor, this could be accomplished relatively easily with IT only being involved in setting up the technology. I see that as freeing the help desk and support staff to work on more important problems rather than a case of getting rid of anyone for the sake of saving on labor. Maybe i underestimate how many people we're talking here. I'll look into it.

The one thing i wonder about is if we automate too many of the low level support jobs in IT whether it will become a problem for IT pros. Those are usually people's first jobs and it helps them get their feet wet in a company-facing role. 
 
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
6/12/2014 | 1:52:21 PM
Re: Restaurants' Switch To Tablets Is Trouble
You're certainly right to point out that this is a double-edged sword, Dave. Companies sink a huge amount of money into these services up-front, and then end up not making a return on it immediately and therefore not being able to keep up on the maintenance and upgrades. They add all kinds of unnecessary bells and whistles (like the games on these Chili's kiosks), while missing seemingly obvious problems (bad handling of restricted items IE liquor... didn't they know they sold these items all along?) Like you say, it's a little puzzling what simple lessons we can't seem to learn in ten years.

Some of these can be solved by better practices, and some of them seem to be the price of doing business with self-service. Either way, companies should factor them into their budgets and plans before diving in headfirst, not after. If it costs you $1,000 to set up a self-service station, you can't think of that as a flat cost - you have to factor in the costs of service, repair, upgrades, and more. You have to account for the possibility of needing to replace it sooner than you expect - and if you need to justify that cost, do it with the longterm ROI you earn day in and day out, not the money it's going to save you by terminating employees on day 1.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
6/12/2014 | 1:49:41 PM
Re: Love paying this way, hate ordering
@Susan- Historically, these switches don't mean lost jobs. They create jobs elsewhere. When the airlines switched to self-service kiosks they eliminated desk people, but needed more back office people including IT.

However, as the backoffice gets more efficient with the use of technology (especially the cloud) i think it might be time to really redefine what these moves mean to jobs. I'm guessing if not now, in the ocming decades we really are going to be making it difficult to come up with a enough jobs for the people we have.

And we are already taxing the economy because we lack the skilled and edeucated workers for some roles and those unlucky enough to not get the right educaiton are stuck out in the cold.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/12/2014 | 1:46:28 PM
Re: Love paying this way, hate ordering
@Tom: This is especialy true when said customer is the only thing standing between me and a cup of coffee:

One thing more frustrating that being in line behind someone taking a long time at a cashier is being in line behind someone taking a long time with a self-service device due to technological confusion.

:)
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