Questions on sales forecasts, customer preferences, or item stock levels? Your restaurant’s point-of-sale (POS), customer relationship management (CRM), or inventory systems should have ready answers for you. An all-in-one, integrated cloud solution can provide you with better control of your restaurant business since you see how data impacts its operation in real-time.
Comparing big data and small data
Big data has been the talk of the town in recent years, promising predictive prowess based on our collective digital footprints. The term “big data” typically implies large, distributed sets of databases that require complex processing. When analyzed holistically, these mega databases are supposed to provide answers to society’s shared challenges, such as food scarcity or environmental degradation.
However, it doesn’t make business sense for operations like diners, cafes, or food trucks to pour in money for a crumb of insight from big data. Getting something out of big data involves complicated number-crunching workbenches, teams of data scientists, and even the use of artificial intelligence. Sometimes, the attempt to structure an otherwise chaotic, disparate data dump is bound to be futile.
On the other hand, “small data” refers to a data set that can be easily accessed and made sense of. According to web guru Neil Patel, “small data is all about people.” Since small data is readily available within the organization – such as from your restaurant management software – it’s convenient for restaurants to find the right data for their problems and challenges.
Indeed, competitive advantage can result from turning data into actionable insights. Of course, some tools are also needed in figuring out small data, but it can be as simple as a worksheet or as powerful as a built-in software dashboard.
Making sense of data typically involves three things. First, data that is relevant for a specific business process must be defined. Next is identifying the sources of data. And finally, it must be confirmed that data will be sufficiently available as frequently required by the business.
This complicated process can be automated in dashboards – setup may not even be required. Dashboards visually organize data and represent a snapshot of the business in any given period. With the capability to drill-down on specific data, a well-designed dashboard offers information that can be of immediate assistance to pressing operational concerns. Dashboards transform small data into mission-critical metrics to help in monitoring the state of business.
As a case in point, restaurants using cloud-based POS software benefit from real-time sales updates in dashboards. Getting the feed “LIVE” makes all the difference when you have important decisions to make. As an owner or business decision-maker, you can quickly see which items are selling the most, which are most profitable, and whether service delivery rates remain above par. Each of these can be easily tracked via widgets, which highlight predefined metrics and show snippets of the latest data.
Small data, big deal to business
Data exponentially grows, and there are more ways than one to how much it can positively impact businesses. It is for this reason that modern businesses, including restaurants, should opt for software that future-proofs their data requirements.
Apart from dashboards, another source of business-boosting information is your CRM. Since the cost of acquiring new customers is at least five times more than retaining existing ones, it’s important to understand what the data says about those who already actively engage with the brand. A CRM should be robust enough to store and easily retrieve customer details, order histories, and preferences – without a cap on data.
Coupled with a loyalty program, you can leverage your CRM to unlock more sales and opportunities. But to do so, barriers to access by people who need to make informed decisions should also be removed. With cloud-based software, there’s now more leeway to access data anytime, anywhere, and on any device – which is a paradigm shift compared to how traditional software operates on a strictly per-license usage.
Small data as gears for business integration
“The data fabric is the next middleware,” says tech executive Todd Papaioannou. Indeed, it is through small data that different business systems can enable interoperability. Since restaurants typically use multiple systems for their different processes, integration between these systems allows for smoother collaboration in the organization. Indeed, data serves as the gears that lead to harmonizing business processes.
In the case of restaurants, the flow of data doesn’t stop at the point-of-sale. For example, when integrated with accounting software, data from recorded sales also syncs as scheduled for accurate book-keeping and for ensuring tax compliance. Such an ability to integrate with other business systems is widely considered as a primary consideration for selecting restaurant software.
With the popularity of online aggregator sites among consumers, restaurants are also seeing the need to centrally manage their order fulfillment and delivery. It would be cumbersome for restaurants to separately track orders, manage menus, and monitor distribution for their various online and mobile sales channels. Restaurants stand to save a lot of money and effort if they use a seamlessly integrated, all-in-one system for their third-party partners.
Small data can give restaurants and customer-centric businesses a diagnostic check of their short-term and long-term prospects. This is where an all-in-one cloud software that holistically offers a LIVE business dashboard, complementary modules (CRM, loyalty, inventory, etc.), and third-party integrations can provide your business with a strategic edge. With data-driven insights at their fingertips, it’s much easier for restaurants using cloud solutions to make better-informed decisions for how to run and level up the business.