in a Digital World
|This article is from the Fall 2002 issue of Hospitality Upgrade magazine. To view more articles covering technology for the hospitality industry please visit the Hospitality Upgrade Web site or to request a free publication please call (678) 802-5303 or e-mail.|
|By: Bill Fitzpatrick
If you believe in technology for technology's sake, then you are now advised to move on to other more pleasing articles. If you ignore this warning and elect to read the following, be aware that you will face certain unpleasant and unexpected realities, such as a dreadful error by a futurist, unsettling thoughts about the "all-digital world," a terrible confession, and a few exciting thoughts about … paper. All of these realities will be discussed against the backdrop of the multi-unit restaurant operator, as we answer the question, "If the world is digital, why does HP sell millions of printers and billions of cartridges, and what implications does this paper preference have to do with getting the attention of the restaurant manager?"
In 1970, futurist Alvin Toffler wrote, "Making paper copies of anything is a primitive use of machines and violates their very spirit." While that sounds very nice, according to a recent Lexmark analysis, no one cares about machines' spirits.
"Virtually no one anticipated the tremendous reverse impact the Internet, electronic mail, personal digital assistants and even electronic calendars would have on the number of documents we print and the amount of paper we use. But the unthinkable has happened. More documents are being created and printed than ever before. The impact of these trends on the enterprise information technology infrastructure is startling.
Edward Tenner is a Princeton University lecturer.
The restaurant manager understands that paper is a workable medium, in the sense that it is much easier to print and annotate a suggested labor schedule than it is to modify the data in electronic form. Many printed reports are easier to read than electronic reports. It will take an unexpected paradigm shift that would involve application providers and corporate business practices to convert a restaurant to a paperless environment.
As any electronic book manufacturer can attest, people prefer the touch of paper to the colors of the screen. This has interesting implications. Is there a relationship between our preference for paper and the priority we assign to incoming communications? Simply put, if an unread fax is on our desk and the computer voice says, "You have mail," which do we process first?
Melissa Houston is vice president of information technology for Rubio's Restaurants. Rubio's recently announced record revenues and earnings. Several months ago, I asked her about Rubio's preferred method of restaurant communication.
Houston said, "When the district managers really want to get the attention
of the unit managers, they fax. We have other tools, but they feel the
fax works best."
The digital world has brought important changes to the multi-unit restaurant
operator. Over the past 20 years there has been a significant change in
the speed and amount of data to and from the restaurants. Despite this,
when I visit major restaurant operators (and restaurants) across the country,
there is paper everywhere. I must confess I printed out 47 pages of paper
of academic research while researching this very topic. Electronic mail,
pagers and cell phones are useful business tools and have their place in
a corporate messaging strategy. In this era of bits and bytes, however,
the human preference for paper should be considered.
Hospitality Upgrade magazine
and the Hospitality Upgrade.com website
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|HOSTEC - EURHOTEC 2002 - Room for Improvement / Christel Dietzsch / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Feb 2002|
|Technology and the Human Touch / Dan Phillips / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Spring 2002|
|Wireless Technology: Where We Have Been, Where Are we Going? / Geneva Rinehart / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Spring 2002|
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|Understanding and Maximizing a Hotel’s Electronic Distribution Options / by John Burns / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Fall 2000|
|The Future of Electronic Payments - From Paper to Plastic and Beyond / J. David Oder / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Summer 2000|
|Timeshare Technology Steps Up / by Elizabeth Lauer / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / July 2000|
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