If there was one relative positive to come out of the entire coronavirus experience for onsite dining operators, it has been its impact on advancing the implementation of technology solutions in meal programs. Foodservice directors in multiple markets have noted how the pressure of coping with the pandemic’s restrictions while continuing to serve customers has prompted their administrations to approve or fast-track technology programs that had been kept off the front burner for reasons varying from budget considerations and institutional priorities to simple inertia and bureaucratic stasis.
Suddenly, approvals began to flow for both fairly established technologies such as mobile ordering to relative exotics like delivery robots and automated meal production systems. Many of these technologies have already seen action in the commercial restaurant world, where competitive pressures and cost management imperatives have driven innovation and experimentation.
The onsite dining world tends to be more conservative for a variety of reasons, but the pandemic has forced operators to adapt to new realities that require sometimes out-of-the-box thinking, and the result has been a spate of technology implementations across all onsite dining markets. Here are 15 technology-related stories Food Management ran over this past year.