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Highlights from the 2017 National Restaurant Association Show: Part 2

June 1, 2017

Hosting more than 2,000 exhibitors and 60,000 industry professionals, the National Restaurant Association show took place from May 20 to May 23 at McCormick Place in Chicago.

Our first post looked at dynamic shifts in the industry and the consumer. For this installment we look at the role of technology at this years show:

IoF – The Internet of Food
The NRA 2017 Tech Pavilion was impressive in scale and content, featuring the Startup Alley: fourteen companies selected by the NRA as standouts in digital innovation. Everything from intelligent kiosks, cloud-based point of sale solutions, electronic booking systems, to on-demand catering provided rich insight into how the future of foodservice will be made digital.

Annika Stensson, director of research communications for the NRA, noted that about two-thirds of restaurant patrons see technology as a way to speed up service, provide them convenience and customization, as well as add to the dining experience.

Shane O'Flaherty, national director of hospitality and travel for Microsoft, added that AI and speech to text might also be factors in the transformation. Past purchases and preferences housed on phones or watches will enhance the consumer experience, while automation services add efficiencies to the back of house.

Takeaway: Understanding the role of digital in the customer journey, as well as employees and the relationship of digital to your brand will identify and prioritize opportunities for meaningful transformation. How does digital present itself in your customer’s path to purchase?