Information Technology professionals will get a master’s class worth of education when they attend the National Restaurant Association’s biannual Executive Study Group meetings, says Red Lobster’s Rex Smith.
This fall’s meeting, Nov. 5-6 at the W Hotel in Dallas, will focus on several pressing topics affecting the IT community and their impact on the restaurant industry. They include:
- The growing demand to increase website accessibility for the disabled
- How best to battle data breaches
- How to apply loss-prevention camera solutions, and
- The latest requirements regarding PCI compliance
“I’ve been to six or seven of these events already and every time I go, I pick up one or two things to bring back that [my colleagues and I] end up having more discussion on,” says Smith, Red Lobster’s senior director of IT Business Solutions. “It’s a place where companies as large as Red Lobster, or even larger, talk to us about similar issues they’re experiencing, how they’re solving those problems and how others can benefit from those solutions.”
Skip Kimpel, vice president of information technology for Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza and the ESG’s chair, says the meeting was one of the best and quickest ways for him to learn about the restaurant industry, know his peers and understand the issues they struggled with.
“I needed to be fully embedded and engulfed in the environment,” he says. “I jumped in blindly, but it’s probably the best move I ever made from an industry technology perspective.”
Both men say that this year’s event will allow them to continue the conversations they’ve already started and begin some new ones with some new attendees.
“We’re all experiencing the same issues and problems,” Kimpel says. There are topics that cross over from meeting to meeting,” “That doesn’t mean the questions aren’t answered; they’re just continuing problems or evolving technologies that we constantly need to be informed about.”
One example of that, he adds, is third-party delivery.
“Since it’s constantly changing, everyone in the group needs to be aware of what’s going on, the best practices to apply, and how everyone is solving it for their own companies,” he says. “Even the small guys in the room kick around what they’re doing and sometimes they are solutions that no one else has thought of yet, and that’s brilliant.”
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