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The Trouble with Technology

The Trouble with Technology

Becky Schilling, Food Management Editor-in-Chief

Just how important is technology? The next time you go on a trip, count the number of chargers you have to pack. And it’s not just the physical pieces of equipment that have come to be so prominent in our lives. Need to do your banking? There’s an app for that—and for millions of other tasks, hobbies and things you never knew you needed but can’t live without now.

Technology has made so many of our daily to dos so much easier. But there’s always been a dark side to it, too. It’s great that your smartphone has GPS so you can track it when it gets lost and find your way around town on Google Maps. But who else is accessing this information? Probably more people than you thought. If you read the fine print on many apps, it says the companies will use your GPS to track you. Of course the companies say it’s to help better serve you, and perhaps being able to detect your location does provide some benefits for the user.

But it helps the company more. In this technology-driven society, information is so valuable. When you sign up for an app or visit a website, you’re being tracked. They are collecting information about your demographics, your location and your usage patterns. It sounds very nefarious. And, for the most part, it’s not. That information helps companies tailor data and services to you. It also helps the company be profitable. If a clothing company is looking to reach 30-year-olds who live in the Midwest and like eco-friendly options, a website or app might have gathered that information about you from your usage of its technology. That clothing company can then go through the app, either directly with an ad or email or through purchasing the app’s user demographics and contact info, and reach out to you.

Just how much technology is too much technology? So many things have been made easier through the use of technology. But it’s also created this keep-up-or-become-obsolete reality. Uber is a great example of how technology is changing the taxi industry—and many in the traditional yellow cab world are none too pleased about the tech startup’s venture into their market and the potential for losing money.

Don’t think foodservice is immune from this technology competition. There’s a new app in town at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, called Hooked, which provides real-time discounts on food and beverage within walking distance of the campus. The app, which is available for free, has partnerships with 40 local restaurants and food trucks. Hooked is currently available at five campuses, but the company hopes to go nationwide by this fall.

What’s the big deal, you might ask? Dining fatigue and cheap deals could persuade students to forgo university-prepared meals in favor of local restaurants just across the street.

Many onsite locations are already in on the game and are creating or using technology to help improve customer service, be more efficient or increase sales. You can read about six examples that can be found here. I encourage you to get plugged in if you haven’t already. Your customers are used to giving away just a bit of privacy for the ease technology gives them. So I challenge you to dive in and get tech-ed up.

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