The pros for adopting technology is fairly straightforward – cost reduction, efficiency, and better economies of scale.

But what are some challenges in modernising F&B with technology?

Cost. Is honestly not the biggest hurdle when it comes to implementing technology that optimises efficiency and unlocks new profit models for food and beverage businesses.

1. Mindset

Business people are known to be pragmatic and quick with numbers. When it comes to new technology, projects, opportunities, we are quick to break out our calculators and do the number crunching. When the discussion with equipment vendors wind down to dollars, we naturally question how it affects our cash flow and how fast can we get our return on investment.

Over time, we observed that business operators and management tend to easily equate productivity gains with cutting labour. From a management perspective, labour itself is a tough and costly issue to tackle, especially in Singapore where manpower quotas and the lack of right employees can hold back expansion plans. This makes a clear case to use machines to replace human labour.

But let’s take a step back. Holding this mindset can be problematic. On the ground, one would face many challenges in directly implementing technology to replace employee roles, who will naturally be resistant to help with the transition if they suspect or feel they are being made redundant.

With the wrong mindset in mind, management often implements changes to their workforce leaving a demoralised trail behind. It certainly isn’t an easy journey for businesses to assemble a good team given how a highly skilled and talented workforce can be difficult to assemble in the F&B sector. How staffing is handled easily affects internal culture and morale, and sometimes even branding, which has it’s own costs.

2. It needs deep understanding at every level

At the core of the issue, however, the focus is on the internal work processes. Remember, technology is a slave, not a master.

We use technology to improve internal work process around our physical limitations, not frame our work around these expensive systems. Humanistic approaches towards employees and technology naturally make adoption easier and build a strong organisation ready to grow together.

Focusing back on the work processes, unless the business owner or a strong core team have a tight grasp on the entire operational workflow and best practices, overhauls and changes can potentially leave gaps that require costly patching and firefighting.

And this brings us to our next point.

3. Need for customisation

As covered in our separate article, every F&B is unique, with differing recipes and work processes. This means that technology partners deploying the infrastructure need to have a solid understanding of industry best practices, their client’s existing practices and the most cost-effective way to roll out an efficient system. In a nutshell, one needs a reliable technology partner who is willing to go the extra mile to customise the solution.

While grants and subsidies make better technology easy to adopt by F&B SMEs. But without a true understanding and evaluation of how the new system benefits the business model in the long run, it quickly becomes a white elephant or expensive marketing gimmick.

With these considerations in mind, here at Chef At Work we help our clients close these gaps. Central Kitchens and manufacturing setups increasingly involve the use of large scale automated systems weaved with mini-ERP or centralised software. Our deep knowledge in how F&Bs function enables us to implement infrastructure that gels with their business model and processes. Our methodology helps our clients achieve their long term business goals.