Digital transformation of the Food Plaza – Group 15
The idea of the digital transformation suggested in our paper came along -as so many other new ideas- in a simple discussion about something that bothered us. Before an Information Strategy lecture one of our team members was really annoyed as she needed to wait more than 15 minutes to get her lunch on campus, making her almost late for class. As we were talking about the situation it turned out that almost all of us faced already similar frustrations. We all started thinking: “for sure there is a way to solve this” and this is how we decided that with our digital transformation project we want to contribute to something that can impact everyone’s life at Erasmus University.
So the goal of our research was to understand and if needed suggest a solution for a reported frustration of customers of the Erasmus Food Plaza: long waiting times. To understand the challenge better we examined the internal and external environment of both the Food Plaza as a whole and the restaurants within it. We found that the competitive advantage of the Food Plaza lies in the variety it provides both in the amount of choices and range of prices, but the average waiting time tends to be high compared to other restaurants located on campus.
We understood most important goals and expectations of the University Support Center, the unit responsible for the Food Plaza within Erasmus University towards its suppliers are delivering services in an innovative, professional and client-oriented way thus contributing to higher and higher customer satisfaction. By taking into account both the previously mentioned goals of the USC and the goals of the individual restaurants of the plaza we defined three key success factors (KSF). Key success factors being those areas where the facility needs to perform well in order to achieve it’s most important goals. We defined the key success factors as: pricing and variety (KSF1), reliable and consistent quality (KSF2) and speed of ordering process (KSF3).
Based on the findings above, the survey ran by our team among clients of the campus’ food facilities and interviews with the restaurants of the plaza we found that in order to be successful the Erasmus Food Plaza on one hand needs to improve its ordering process and on the other hand needs to enable the restaurants to have more data about their customers. As a solution we suggested the implementation of a pre-ordering and mobile payment smartphone application, as a tool that can give answer to both of the needs stated above. We also believe that it would help the implementation that students (the biggest customer group of Food Plaza) are familiar with using phone applications, although a thorough multi-channel promotion (with elements of resonance marketing and usage of word-of-mouth) in cooperation with the university would be needed to achieve the needed amount of users.
From the perspective of the companies: after the initial oneof investment the application would turn profitable if an increase in the customer basis is achieved. The restaurants would also need to put effort into the training of their stuff, and the reorganization of their current stands in order to provide a convenient way for fast food pick-up by the application users. Also changing the way how they make decisions to a more data driven way would also be needed to leverage all the potential benefits of the new technology.
To conclude: if we take a look at the impact the application can have on the Food Plaza we can see that: it contributes to the pricing and variety success factor by allowing customers to be better informed about the prices and products of the companies but also by allowing restaurants to better customize their products and prices to the needs to the customers. On the longer run has the potential to contribute to the consistent quality success factor by taking the burden of handling payments, registering cash and taking orders off from the shoulders of the restaurant employees and allowing them to focus on what they are the best in: preparing good food and beverages plus decreasing the chances of human errors in the case of customized orders. And it can definitely fasten up the order process thus contributing to the third success factor. So all in all we can say that a mobile pre-order and payment application would hugely benefit the Erasmus Food Plaza.