The enterprise garners a majority of the attention when it comes to Big Data and the Internet of Things, but there's mounting evidence from this year's National Restaurant Association (NRA) tradeshow that the restaurant industry is carving out its own use cases to capitalize on the potential of a data-driven, connected future.
Among the scores of technology vendors strutting their point-of-sale wares is a common theme of connectivity — from back office operations to targeted deals via data collection and analysis. Much like retail, the restaurant industry relies on a balance of internal functionality and customer relationship management to ensure its success.
What technology vendors are now proposing is the use of Big Data to tie all of those needs together at the POS, albeit in a much different form factor than the POS terminals of a decade ago.
A recent Microsoft Embedded blog post provided a roundup of products from company partners showcasing at NRA. First on the list is MICROS Systems' new multifunction mTablet.
On its own, the mTablet can be used for table-side ordering and as a mobile POS, but coupled with the MICROS Engagement feature, the device becomes a bit more robust. Engagement gives restaurant managers the ability to view and analyze data gleaned from the POS and other touchpoints. The idea is that they can use that data to make real-time decisions effecting wait lists and reservation acceptance, or inventory and sales.
NEC Corporation debuted its Retail Stanchion POS back in January with a focus on connecting retail stores, but it's showing the product at NRA with a hook tweaked for restaurants. As another Microsoft Embedded partner, NEC's hardware provides the bones for the Stanchion Store, which integrates hardware, software and services to give managers access to real-time data that could help with ordering, forecasting and operational decisions.
The basic goal of both of these products is to make Big Data accessible and usable for restaurant operators, who are unlikely to hold high-level skills in analytics and data science.
Groupon's POS play
In other POS news, Groupon, which is widely known for its daily deal platform, made the leap to payments with the launch of Gnome. The iPad-based platform will recognize Groupon customers and make the process of redeeming Groupon vouchers more seamless. But the device also goes a step further and incorporates CRM tools, accounting software, and the ability to build and automatically update a database with customer contact information.
Groupon already offered payments processing services, but adding the POS makes it more of a competitor with Square, who has also sought to offer a more complete suite of small business services with the release of products like Square Feedback and its order-ahead option for Square Market customers.
The bottom line
With the proliferation of POS products making connectivity easier to come by, restaurants could be a microcosm for the bigger IoT picture. Whether its connecting in-store technology or connecting with a customer, businesses are going to have a lot of options for when (and if) the time comes to jump full force on to the IoT/Big Data bandwagon.