Chain restaurants can relate to the old saying, “Too many cooks spoil the soup.” But I’m not talking about a dozen kitchen workers in white aprons stirring a pot of chicken noodle.
I’m talking about the legion of business applications in place at both the corporate and HQ-level in chain restaurant businesses. These software systems often work across hundreds of franchises.
For the most part, these applications are integrated ad hoc, if at all. That lack of uniformity can cost chain restaurants lost efficiency, lower profitability and a diminished guest experience.
At Aspire Systems, a Dell Boomi partner and global technology services firm of 2,400 employees, we’re seeing fast-casual and quick-serve restaurant chains target integration as a high priority. Fierce competition and rapidly-changing industry dynamics are making integration not just a mere appetizer but a key ingredient in the recipe for improving operations and driving digital transformation in the chain restaurant industry.
Since turning to the Boomi platform to replace our previous open source integration framework, Aspire Systems has seen its integration development accelerate by 70 percent.
For example, fickle customers have soaring digital expectations for the user experience both in-store and with delivery orders. Tight margins and price competition are prompting chains to explore how they can improve operational cost-efficiency. Sensor-based kitchen devices open opportunities for Internet of Things (IoT) integration that can improve speed and quality.
Addressing such issues requires agile, scalable integration. But that’s a significant challenge. Consider the multiple integration scenarios that confront a restaurant chain, at both headquarters and across franchises of all shapes and sizes.
Point of Sale. Multiple franchises utilize a variety of point-of-sale (POS) systems. Daily, weekly or monthly financials transmitted to corporate often means error-prone manual work and emailing documentation for the franchise. A lack of real-time sales data consolidation at headquarters complicates revenue management and forecasting.
Menu, pricing and promotions. Chains regularly update menus, pricing and promotions, but getting franchises on board can be hit or miss. Customer satisfaction can fall if a local restaurant isn’t up-to-date with changes that a chain promotes at the corporate level.
Supply chain and onboarding. Unless franchises and headquarters have a common integration platform with real-time data, replenishing supplies can be guesswork that results in overstock or understock. Even bringing on a new franchise can be a painful and time-consuming exercise without fast, flexible integration across multiple systems.
Digital experience. Chains strive to offer online ordering, curbside pickup, mobile apps, home delivery through partners, and other digital innovations, but a seamless guest experience is difficult to deliver when systems have to be integrated through hand coding. Glitches in subpar integration techniques can affect customer orders and loyalty.
Kitchen display systems. Delivering a spot-on meal requires integration between a front-of-house POS and kitchen display system (KDS) that guides cooks through specifications, timing, sequencing and more. With a variety of POS and KDS systems in a multi-franchise environment, piecemeal integration becomes a big issue.
Aspire Systems and Boomi team up to help chain restaurants address these integration challenges and more. Boomi provides the foundation for AURAS (the Aspire Unified Reference Architecture Solution), geared to help restaurant chains improve the speed, visibility and quality of their operations.
AURAS features industry-specific Digital API functionality and POS Connectors for food and beverage companies, as well as other verticals, including hospitality, manufacturing, insurance and retail (I discuss Aspire’s approach to retail integration in the Boomi blog post, “How Integration Solves Four Top Omnichannel Retail Challenges”).
As a result, restaurateurs can accelerate innovation by eliminating the high time and cost of connecting internal and external (franchise) systems by hand coding or legacy on-premise middleware.
For example, a large restaurant chain with nearly 2,000 franchise locations used AURAS as a key element for digital transformation. The Aspire framework has helped the chain address integration challenges involving POS and revenue forecasting, pricing and promotions management, as well as digital innovations such as mobile and online ordering (with curbside pickup).
And as outlined in an Aspire case study, another restaurant chain with more than 170 locations worldwide relies on AURAS to streamline POS and employee management. The chain has realized tremendous improvements in operational efficiency, data consistency and total cost with AURAS orchestrating data across POS systems, a legacy ERP application and Microsoft Active Directory.
Since turning to the Boomi platform to replace our previous open source integration framework, Aspire Systems has seen its integration development accelerate by 70 percent. And AURAS’s capabilities are broadened with our use of Boomi API design and management, Boomi Flow for workflow development, and Boomi Master Data Hub for ensuring data quality.
Together, the Aspire/Boomi offering gives chain restaurants the agility and scale they need to address integration challenges today and well into the digital future. Restaurateurs can focus on delighting guests with a phenomenal experience, not the costly and time-consuming ordeal of manual integration.
About the author: Hariharan Ganesh is the global head of enterprise architecture and integration at Aspire Systems. Aspire, a Boomi partner, helps organizations create innovative IT architectures and drive digital transformation. Hariharan is also a chief architect of the AURAS integration platform.
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