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July 21, 2017

DIGITAL INNOVATIONS, BEYOND A REVOLUTION

As we settle down into an era of digital disruption, it can be quite overwhelming for those who are more comfortable with less technological advances to communicate. Imagine just a little over 30 years ago, the idea for the iPhone was still percolating as a design in Apple’s lab. Today, we are inundated not just with the software and hardware, but also the choices of where this tech takes us.

Having covered the foodservice sector for more than a decade, I realize today’s digital revolution was inevitable, and those who fail to integrate new technology systems into company operations may find their customers seeking other “techy-er” pastures. While a wait-and-see position may have worked before, waiting may also translate to being left behind.

E-PLATFORM
At the recent RestoInvest 2, Department of Trade and Industry Assistant Secretary Art Boncato opened the food conference with his thoughts on the role of digital innovations in the supply chain, especially with the bigger ASEAN market in mind.

“We want our F&B players to be as competitive as possible. With ASEAN’s Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, we now have a potential market of 600 million people,” Boncato noted.

Art Boncato (photo from Courage Asia, taken at RestoInvest 2 food conference)

He observed that the Philippines needs to keep pace with the ASEAN economic community. One of DTI’s options includes an online platform to help buyers and suppliers, such as the “business-to-business e-palengke platform to connect local suppliers with potential buyers. That will have a big impact on our farmers and our micro, small and medium enterprises.” The Philippine E-commerce Roadmap has also been finalized to further assist the country with domestic and cross-border e-commerce and seamless connectivity.

ASEAN Economic Ministers Chairman and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez also affirmed the growing importance of digitalization at the recent ASEAN 2017 MSME Development Summit. “Through innovation and digitalization, we are confident that MSMEs can leapfrog their status as globally-competitive enterprises, thus benefitting everyone in ASEAN.” He explained that adopting a business model that considers processes and systems innovation, including the integration of digital strategies and e-commerce in market operations is a big growth enabler for MSMEs.

 

MAKING TECH SOLUTIONS CONVENIENT
“The dominant strategy in the fast food and QSR sectors has been the ‘products and promotions’ approach. In today’s fast-paced world, however, what people are really looking for is a SOLUTION. Customers want the most seamless, most accessible, most straight-forward, and quickest way to get outstanding food,” explained Pinky Yee, President of Domino’s Pizza Philippines Express, another one of the key speakers at the RestoInvest 2 food conference.

“There is a need to expand the definition of the word product and go beyond the consumable merchandise.” By using innovative technology, Domino’s was able to define the future of fast food through user-friendly mobile-ordering apps and technology that lets diners order from Facebook, Twitter and their browsers. Addressing the need for convenience, Yee noted that this has been a “game-changer, as we elevate the customer experience.”

 

Central cloud-based network allows for seamless communication and analytics tracking. Up-to-date mapping technology optimizes tech as an enabler of consumer promise to deliver piping hot pizza in thirty minutes. Omni channels enable ease of ordering across different social media platforms from Facebook and Twitter, with pizza emoji icons also making the process fun.

Regular app users can have their preferences stored, requiring zero clicks after approving the order information. “Thinking like a tech company makes us a digital first brand, using innovative technology. We consider ourselves a tech company that sells pizza,” Yee continued.

At the heart of today’s innovation lies a triangle of success, anchored on product quality, customer service and technology. Yee observed that while the first was a rudimentary differentiator in the past and the second is already a minimum expectation these days, the key to food business sustainability lies in the third. “But it has to be technology with a clear and definite purpose, not just for technology’s sake.”

“Tech can deliver a piece of the future today,” she ended.

Domino’s early start on the mobile-ordering apps has given it an edge over other fast-food companies. The company has shows how efficient technology innovations that focus on the customers, keep them involved and engaged and offer convenience can help food businesses stay relevant and sustainable.

 

B2B FOR F&B
Business decisions will always be based on solid data and market research. Traditional FGD’s, interviews, video conferencing, social media forums and online surveys are now the more common sources for data gathering but the right technological support can help improve this tedious and sometimes lengthy process.

Mobikon, a leading customer engagement and analytics platform for the hospitality industry, launched its entire product suite for the Philippines this year, that targets specific needs of F&B operators.

Some of Mobikon’s products include:

  • mEngage is a single dashboard analytics platform for customer response management.
  • mConcierge is a notification and alert app that manages operations and customer experience from ordering and reservations.
  • mCampaigns boasts of an in-depth marketing platform for restaurants.
  • mFeedback allows for real time diner feedback.

The unique feature about the platform lies in its single dashboard, which engages customers across digital channels, which includes Ordering, Reservations, Website, Feedback, Campaigns and Loyalty.

Compared to downloadable apps, Mobikon is a B2B platform focused on providing a strong platform for F&B operators to engage their customers, build real time insights and re-target them more efficiently.

The key insight is how Mobikon has created a singular tool to seamlessly manage data and decisions for the convenience of both the owners and customers.

 

BAKING UP INNOVATION
As a baked goods supply company, Puratos has always sought to understand how its consumers choose, select, and decide on specific products to determine their expectations. For several years, Puratos has collected in-depth insights from their consumers in 25 countries about their choices, attitudes, and perceptions related to the baked goods industry. This is summarized in their Taste Tomorrow reports that chronicle global and local consumer behavior and trends related to bakery, pastry, patisserie and chocolate.

One of the key insights relates to having convenience within reach, which led to the launch of Puratos Philippines My Bakery app. This centralizes all of the information that bakers would need, from ingredients and recipes to purchases and delivery. Following this direction of digitalization and mobility is in line with the company’s vision to answer its consumers’ needs.

 

DRIVING TECH FOR TOMORROW
In the World Economic Forum’s Global Challenge Insight Report The Future of Jobs, “technological drivers of change are mobile internet and cloud technology, which enables more efficient delivery of services and opportunities to increase workforce productivity; and advances in computing power and big data sets systems in place that makes sense of the unprecedented flood of data these innovations generate.”

As we strive to keep up with the fourth industrial revolution, we need to remind ourselves that old business models will have to evolve and paradigms have to shift. The savvy F&B operator understands that their business demands innovation anchored on information technology.

Have you thought of how to tech up your foodservice business yet?

 

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