Six experts in the field talk tech solutions

Six experts in the field talk tech solutions

With digital transformation an inevitability for businesses all over the world, we talk technology with six experts in the field and find out what tech solutions are available for hospitality and F&B enterprises.

Career highlights
Launching the first robotic fulfilment solution in the MEA region played a big role in laying the foundation of what IQ is right now. IQ’s trio of solutions aims to offer the e-commerce industry the latest technology powered by robotics and AI. Through this, we are creating a level playing field, allowing smaller e-commerce founders to utilize the technology and operational capabilities with the e-commerce giants such as Amazon and Noon.

Providing solutions
The ability of IQ to provide solutions is what sets us apart. Our technology can aid and improve any industrial facility that caters to material movement, employee efficiency and process execution. Our transformation solution can speed up material movement and decrease bottlenecks, while the robotic technology we implement can triple the picking efficiency and decrease sorting errors by more than 99.9 percent, with 70 percent less labor. Furthermore, our automated storage systems can guarantee stock integrity and safety, increasing space utilization by more than 50 percent.

Newest products and innovations
We have launched IQ Hybrid, a licensing solution, for IQ Fulfillment to go global, utilizing IQ’s technology and modular processes, and it can be implemented instantly. This plug-and-play model delivers a rapid rollout of an end-to-end micro-fulfilment solution.
IQ Hybrid will also offer training and development for businesses to optimize operations, enabling both e-commerce sellers and fulfilment centers to scale. IQ Hybrid will promote an ecosystem where our partners can benefit from a connected network.

A tech background
I am extremely fortunate to have had the privilege of working with both Fortune 500 companies and startups across India, the Middle East and Africa. Having begun my career with a semiconductor major,
AMD, my passion for technology and tech-led business was cemented from the get go. The second milestone was the year I did my master’s at INSEAD. Since then, I have been involved with various
startups in the areas of hospitality and consumer-facing business.

Why tech?
In my view, technology plays three key roles: an enabler, a disrupter and an accelerator. Nowadays, businesses have been forced to tech-up to stay relevant, ultimately providing the best seamless experience to their customers. Now that we live in a data-driven era, where all decision-making is linked back to actionable insights derived from business/consumer data, technology is playing an even greater role.

Latest innovations
Foodics has recently concluded its Series C funding, led by global investors Prosus and Sequoa capital, making it the largest series C round ever by a B2B Saas company in the MENA region, valued at USD 170 million.

My career in F&B spans 30 years across three continents, including Europe and the MENA region. This has not only allowed me to gain a wealth of experience but also gave me a keen insight to problem-solving
from a global multifaceted perspective.

Tech solutions
Eighty6 provides an application for buyers and a complete dashboard for suppliers. Suppliers benefit from access to a growing customer base, increased ease of order completion and the removal of data entry with communication and tracking. On the other hand, Eighty6 grants restaurants access to thousands of SKUs, ease of order features, digital tracking and communication, as well as POS integration.
Eighty6 empowers employees on both sides — the restaurants and the suppliers.
The technological advantages and implications also trickle through the entire process to include saving time (by up to 50 percent), reduced price fragmentation, transparency and improved data to better manage procurement and sales.

Ultimately, Eighty6 technology serves to bring efficiency to the procurement process by enabling us to digitize and track the entire process. As a byproduct, this also allows us to reduce paper wastage, which is another cost-saving achievement.

Talking new tech
We were one of the first to tap into the B2B space from our tech platform, allowing us to provide solutions for customers who were previously reliant on WhatsApp, phone calls and other more traditional communication tools.
Everyone is dependent on technology to some extent, so we have been able to combine the novelty of the format with an efficiency-building platform.
In terms of innovations, we have also created wallets within the system to counter outdated petty cash payment methods and dashboards to aggregate the suppliers, allowing for a dynamic up-to date market list.

What has marked your career?
At the start of the pandemic, I seized the opportunity to acquire my main supplier, Como, having been their biggest reseller in the Middle East and the UK for over five years. Como is the first revenue management platform that helps bricksand-mortar businesses boost their instore and online revenue with AI-driven automated marketing.

Modern-day challenges
Transforming digitally has become an absolute need for restaurants and retailers hoping to survive in this new world. In the last decade, the F&B and retail industries have witnessed drastic change in the type of competitors that have entered these markets. Third party delivery, marketplaces, discount aggregators and ghost kitchens are all fighting for the biggest chunk of the pie. Only businesses that invest and use the right tools will be able to thrive and compete with these giants.

What’s new?
With our main focus on revenue generation, our team has released new capabilities to allow our clients to retarget customers who have visited their stores or restaurants with an ad on Google or Facebook. The outcome of this personalized ad often generates direct online orders on our clients’ apps or websites, thus reducing third-party delivery fees.

Career peaks
In 2011, I decided to expand my horizons and moved to Dubai to spearhead a new tech company that focuses on music management for restaurants and hotels.
I spent the next eight years building that company, and it was clear to me that restaurants needed to embrace the digital transformation.
From online ordering, digital menus and online reputation management, I took a leap of faith and started a company that partnered with several food-tech solutions. Our role was to help restaurants by assessing their needs and providing the right solutions. When Covid-19 hit and lockdowns ensued, online ordering was the only way to get food. Therefore, restaurants needed a solution to help manage all of these operations seamlessly.
I was having an ongoing conversation with Deliverect on collaborating. Our discussion about MENA operations led to me being appointed general manager of the Middle East.

A new normal
We’ve seen restaurants changing their approach, being inventive in terms of engaging with customers through multiple online channels and launching special offers and giveaways. The delivery sector has become crucial for the survival of the hospitality industry.
These changes require restaurants to have a competitive edge and focus on what matters the most, namely the dine-in customer experience and food quality.
This is where technology comes in, empowering restaurants to optimize their operations and business processes, while reducing waste.
Additionally, restaurants will continue to primarily operate through solutions that are easy and straightforward to use as they usually don’t have IT teams to manage their tech. With online orders automatically pushed to the POS, there’s no need to manually re-enter order receipts anymore, saving time and eliminating errors.
Finally, technology that eliminates close contact, like digital menus, tableside ordering, payment apps, and self-service kiosks, is likely to become more prominent. Expect to see greater levels of automation in every part of the restaurant; AI and robotic machines will work alongside humans to cut costs for operators and improve work-life balance for restaurant employees.

We’re redefining omni-channel restaurant management around the world with our innovative all-in-one solution: everything from online order flows to business development.
This region, in particular, has ample potential and hunger for online and offline food orders. Therefore, we are invested in empowering restaurants in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other markets to act
upon consumer demand and better serve their customers. Through our Delivery Manager app, customers can run their sales directly from the Deliverect app and consolidate all sales channels there. This gives a clear overview of all orders while providing access to our other unique features and tools. Customers also have the choice of using the Deliverect app with their own POS.
Our solutions portfolio helps restaurants take control of their delivery experience. For example, Deliverect Dispatch allows restaurants to offer delivery on their direct channels easily. We empower restaurants to sell directly through their own online store. Similarly, Deliverect’s PickUp Manager informs drivers when to go to the counter to pick up their order. This avoids having a long queue of drivers at the restaurant, which could jeopardize the dine-in experience.

Unique selling point
SerVme is a guest experience platform that offers reservation and waitlist management, guest CRM, reporting, guest payment and re-engagement. The platform captures guest spending, patterns and preferences by integrating with the point of sale, telephones, property management systems and popular booking channels, such as the company’s website, Trip Advisor, Google and other sites. Indeed, SerVme powers over 2,500 F&B operators, restaurant brands and hotels across Middle East, Europe, SEA, India and Africa.

Trends in tech
In the post-Covid-19 world, we have seen a tremendous surge in digital adoption in the hospitality industry, specifically in terms of CRM and reservations. F&B operators, owners and hoteliers have placed great emphasis on streamlining operations and understanding guest preferences to deliver exceptional dine-in experiences, increasing guest visits and returns. We help F&B operators succeed in the new era by empowering them with a guest experience platform that is integrated with all the systems to capture guest data from all touch points and help staff operate in a smarter and more effective manner.

Latest tech
The average rate of last-minute cancelations and no-shows is intensifying, affecting restaurants’ bottom line. Indeed, the restaurant industry’s average rate of no-shows worldwide is around 20 percent. However, we have seen the average rate reach 38 percent in the Middle East, which is a tremendous loss for a restaurant that counts on table turnover. SerVme has released pre-payment features allowing restaurants to charge guests in advance and guarantee payment within 24-48 hours. Restaurants can select partial/full deposit or take an authorization on the guest’s card.

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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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