Restaurant operators must move from the Technology Age into the Transformation Decade

Oct. 26, 2012 | by Valerie Killifer

Over the next 100 years, the global population will undergo the same rate of change that has occurred during the past 1,000 years, due to the proliferation of smartphone use and advanced technological solutions.

This "Shift Age" is being defined by three fundamental forces: a flow to increased globalization, continued individualization and accelerated connectedness. These forces, along with several future realities, were presented by David Houle, author of "The Shift Age," during the Fast Casual Executive Summit, held Oct. 21-23 at the US Grant hotel in San Diego.

Houle's presentation, "Leading and Succeeding in the Transformation Decade," highlighted some of the changes the population as a whole will face over the next 50 years as it shifts out of the Technology Age and into one characterized by rapid change.

Not only has humanity entered into a new decade, it also has welcomed in a new millennium, a new century and a new age of modern man.

"Never before in history has there been that alignment," Houle said. "It's really a profound generation of change."

This rapid evolution of society as a whole is being aided by the universal use of cell phones and broadband growth.

"For the first time in human history there is no time or distance limiting human communication," he said.

For restaurant operators and businesses in general, the changes that are occurring have been brought about by an accelerated connectedness and are leading people into several future realities.

These include:

No more gatekeepers: Houle said we are all living in a time of immediate gratification. "Everything is now and everything is available. Anyone can go online and find anything out about your business. Everything is known."

Power to the People: People have more power now than they've ever had and, relative to society's fascination with technology, how is this technology going to change existing business models. For restaurant operators, they need to think about how the technology will improve their relationships with customers or increase their competitive edge.

High Tech/High Touch: While American teenagers today are the highest tech generation in history, they're also more inclined to hug and embrace physical interaction and experiences. Houle used Apple retail stores as an example.

"When you walk in, they want you to touch everything," he said.

For restaurant operators, it's important they understand that the higher-tech the service, the more important their physical "touch" moments become – even with a service as simple as offering free Wi-Fi to reach a 2-5 p.m. clientele looking for a place to work.

Human Technology Interface: Once considered realistic for science fiction novels and movies, the technology able to create brainwave interfaces is real, Houle said. Moving forward, more technology will become available able to track users' movements based on brainwave frequency. Therefore, the shift to high-tech tools is moving from ideation to implementation.

Impact of Millenials and Digital Natives: These two generations are the future of the United States between now and 2050, Houle said. Millenials are the most civic-minded generation since World War II and they want to they want to contribute to society as a whole. They also are on a constant feedback loop because they need and want daily reviews rather than yearly.

"Millenials are the greatest gift to rapid culture change. To course correct an employee every day is profound."

However, this group of society also will resist the financial and business-oriented processes and procedures that continue to come unglued. They're going to push back because they see what isn't working, Houle said.

While the next 50-100 years will continue to see great change, Houle advised the audience: "Don't look back, look forward. What worked in the past is no longer relevant."

Read more about the Fast Casual Executive Summit.

Topics: Fast Casual Executive Summit

Valerie Killifer / As the founder of P-O-P Content & Communications, Valerie Killifer brings her passion for creative thinking and relationship development to the forefront of her business. She spent 15 years as a professional journalist and continues to write about the brands, people and trends impacting the restaurant industry.
www View Valerie Killifer's profile on LinkedIn

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