As the pandemic hit in early 2020, life changed for all of us and as you may be all too aware, 'businesses as usual' quickly shifted to 'these unprecedented times'. A large bulk of industries could - and are still learning to - adapt to a hybrid way of working. But not everyone is so fortunate, as key workers and those in the hospitality sector can attest.
Despite an apparent fondness for throwing parties, the UK government are still widely accused of not doing enough to support the hospitality sector during turbulent times. And, as it looks to limp back to pre-COVID levels, coupled with a lifting of restrictions, busier times could be returning for hotels, bars, restaurants, pubs and clubs soon. But, are they ready for it?
Picture a bog-standard office, if you will. Or, if you're reading this in an office, just take a look around you.
For those working in a standard organisation, each desk, personal office or cubicle will feature the same landline phone and computer - doing so makes sense on several levels.
Users have access to an easy-to-use system, the network consists of easy to access hardware, and, from a financial perspective, it makes sense. Standardising is by no means a new or radical concept, but it can make all the difference. So, where does the hospitality sector come into this?
All too often, SMEs don’t attempt to create a standardised IT infrastructure for one reason only: they believe it's out of their reach. We're here to let you know that it isn't - and can even help set you apart from your competition.
In a customer-facing industry, experiences matter. A lot.
Any customer experience is predominantly defined by the product your organisation offers. Are you a restaurant? They'll judge you by your food. A bar? Your drinks. Of course, you don't need us to teach you that.
It doesn't matter if you're an independent hotel, a local pub, a chic new cocktail bar or a high-street fast-food chain. Your business relies on technology. If your organisation deals with 1000 people a day or 1000 people an hour, there is a consistent demand for an IT ecosystem that is manageable, affordable and fit-for-purpose.
A large part of the experience your business offers is shaped by the staff you employ. But, by putting in unreliable POS systems, faulty phone lines or, internet lines that aren't fit for purpose, you could be setting yourself up to fail - and we're already in the midst of a 'brutal time' for the sector.
Standardising your IT means that staff are less likely to get frustrated with operating the tills, card machines work fine and, if you have multiple branches, checking monthly figures for your venues may prove to be considerably easier.
It cannot be understated just how vital a reliable and cost-effective IT system is in 2022.
Reliable IT systems can play a critical role in every enterprise, which is especially relevant given how the use of technology has deeply entrenched itself into every business organisation in recent times.
Attitudes towards the sector have shifted in recent times, too. Not long ago, the industry was thought of as being dominated by guys operating in poorly-lit rooms - but IT is now starting to feature in board-level discussions. It's clear that it also contributes towards customer-facing applications and processes, can improve collaboration and communication, and even lead to new sources of income.
So, as your business adapts to the rigours of modern times, ensure that your IT network can competently respond to business needs. The easiest way to do this is through the standardisation of your IT infrastructure.
Standardising IT infrastructure does not follow any one-size-fits-all plan. If your enterprise chooses to do so, how far your standardisation efforts can go typically depends on what your existing IT network looks like at the moment and what your business needs are. Once you have a clear picture of these, finding a Managed Service Provider (MSP) can be invaluable. (Remember our 'Hire an Expert - Don't try and Be The Expert!' blog?)
MSPs can bring IT expertise to businesses that may not otherwise be able to employ a dedicated team of IT staff. Because the MSP helps oversee the IT infrastructure, they perform a vital service that’s more than just fixing issues. Procurement services can be invaluable in equipment purchases, your system is monitored round the clock, and small businesses can find ways to streamline their processes.
As you evaluate your options for standardisation, it’s worth keeping in mind that, at its most ideal level, utilising standard IT infrastructure across an organisation brings about many advantages.
Not only can it help with scalability, repeatability, reliability, and cost optimisation, but it can help set you apart from competitors.
Businesses grow, and IT systems must evolve to meet new business activities and challenges. However, these systems can quickly become inefficient, outdated and expensive to manage as newer technologies and processes emerge, which is why standardising your IT infrastructure is beneficial.
Although the extent of the standardisation possible will depend on individual circumstances – industry, company size and budget, for example – many benefits exist across the board. Our team has put together a list of the seven most relevant benefits:
Opening our doors in October 2001, Fifosys has been here to support organisations in numerous sectors over the last two decades.
Helping organisations in the hospitality sector has been a fundamental part of our work, with recent evidence seen in our Comptoir Group case study.
We've also helped organisations such as Meantime Brewery standardise systems ahead of a multi-million-pound takeover from Asahi - and we'd love to help you!
Get in touch with our team for an introduction to Fifosys and hear what we can do to transform your business, starting with an IT audit.
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