By Michael Kowalski – PAR Technology
Besides changing and improving how we live and work, one of the coolest things about technology is that it has become easier and more convenient to acquire and use.
Take restaurant technology, for example. Many providers have moved away from requiring restaurant operators to purchase expensive hardware and software outright to a model where the restaurateur subscribes to the software and/or hardware ‘as a service’ — not unlike paying rent or a lease.
What is ‘As-a-Service’?
Think of today’s restaurant technology ‘as-a-service’ subscription model like a business software subscription such as salesforce.com or leasing a car. In the case of software, you pay a monthly fee to access the features from a web browser or lightweight downloadable app. In the case of products like PAR Infinity, the subscription covers your hardware and every aspect and stage of using it: from initial implementation to disposal and replacement.
How is it different from other acquisition models?
In the past, many restaurant tech providers required the restaurant to pay up front or finance the outright purchase of their POS terminals and other hardware such as kitchen video screen systems and peripherals such as printers and scanners.
This was a huge outlay of capital that the restaurant either had to come up with or pay off over time. If the restaurant struggled or went through a slump, as most did during the recent Covid-19 pandemic, the cost burden put them at a disadvantage.
With the up-front acquisition model, what would happen if something were to break, or if an operating system went end-of-life, forcing the obsolescence of the hardware a restaurant relied on to take orders and payment?
The restaurant may have had a support and service contract with the tech vendor to help with hardware swap-outs or onsite troubleshooting and repair.
Larger chains, on the other hand, might have been able to staff IT help desks that could apply updates and security patches, or send someone to swap out a bad terminal or printer.
Technology’s end of life simply meant the restaurant had to replace the outdated tech.
With the rise in digital commerce and integrations with third parties, there is a lot more that can go wrong, and a lot more for someone (maybe the restaurant’s IT desk or perhaps a district manager who is already wearing a lot of hats) to troubleshoot. Let’s face it, asking a local or district manager to handle one more thing – especially something mission-critical like your technology – can create risks and issues you don’t want to tackle. Even in-house IT departments find it difficult to recruit and retain the breadth of skills and expertise necessary to maintain the range of technology solutions.
“As-a-Service” at your service
An ‘as-a-service’ subscription model breaks up the technology costs into regular, predictable monthly payments similar to paying for a utility or for rent.
The predictable monthly payment frees up capital to invest in other areas of your restaurant. Maybe you want to sink some investment into an experimental virtual delivery-only concept that uses your existing kitchen facilities, during meal ‘shoulder’ times when your dining room business slows down. ‘As-a-service’ evens out your technology costs over time so you have some spare resources available to experiment.
In addition to hardware, some providers will include aspects of service and support, such as a remote help desk.
Other vendors, like PAR, go far beyond the basic phone-tree remote help desk support.
PAR recently released PAR Infinity Hardware-as-a-Service. Going beyond modern hardware, PAR Infinity takes a restaurant’s technology needs off the restaurateur’s plate by handling the entire technology life cycle, service, and support, end to end, outsourcing the technology and the expertise to manage and maintain it:
- Shipping: initial and return shipping
- Installation managed by professional project managers and conducted by certified technicians
- Help desk available 24x7x365
- Field technicians to visit your location and make repairs
- Advanced exchange of peripherals
- Remote diagnosis and troubleshooting of your underlying technology including operating system and security components
- Disposal according to regulatory requirements