The Case of Point Solutions vs. Platform

Did you ever sit down to watch a movie at home and have to sort through a collection of remotes to find the three or four you need to make everything work? There’s one to turn on the TV, one to control the DVD player, one for the sound system and who knows what else. Honestly, how many volume buttons does one entertainment system require?

Similarly, when you manage a restaurant, have you noticed how you use a variety of systems to run the FOH and BOH operations but none of them are really connected? For instance, to manage your biggest asset – your employees – you use many different tools - from paper to single point solutions.

Wouldn’t life be simpler if all your HR solutions worked together effortlessly? That’s what an integrated software platform does. You can see all the parts, track every change and manage it all — from one place.

Point 1: Integration
Point solutions are capable tools. They focus on one need and usually are able to do one thing very well. Like the remote for the DVD player, it controls every cool tech trick your player was ever meant to do.

The problem is that the DVD remote still can’t turn on the TV. It’s the same reason point solutions are disconnected; they miss the big picture. Overtime you collect separate solutions for onboarding, and training, and engagement … and the list goes on. Not only is this costly, but you end up with overlapping solutions, which complicates tying systems together and providing a complete view into your HR processes and information.

An integrated platform optimizes HR processes and improves business efficiency. Not only can you streamline the processes within each restaurant, but you also consolidate resources between your locations. Cloud-based platforms provide your managers and executive team the ability to customize programs based on their needs. At the same time they can store and manage all the information in one place.

Point 2: Consolidated Data Entry
A major inefficiency regarding point solutions is repetitive data entry. Each solution needs the employees’ information keyed in, and in most cases you have to copy data from one point solution to another. On top of being time consuming and redundant, this opens the window for human error and inaccuracies.

Integrated, cloud solutions offer consistency. A manager or employee keys in the information one time and its there for use across the board; in the application, onboarding, compliance, payroll, time and attendance, training and whatever else you have on the system. You can finally quit tabbing between windows to copy and paste.

Point 3: Tracking and Reporting
HR is moving more and more towards having to validate processes and budgeting with analytical data. So it’s important you can access that information. Point solutions leave data sealed off in ‘information silos.’ And you can’t prove overall success if you can only access part of the story.

Data-driven insights are what allow HR to implement and evaluate strategies, and improve restaurant operations. You need to be able to view the whole picture, from how many hours are going into the hiring process to the reason for termination. Most integrated platforms are designed to run reports that provide high level overviews, as well as the nitty-gritty details that make your restaurant run more smoothly.

Point 4: Cost
Cutter ran a SaaS survey where 86 percent of respondents reported planning to take advantage of SaaS because of the potential cost savings. More than a quarter said they were hoping Web-based platforms would cut their costs by 20-30 percent.

Additionally, a report by Aberdeen showed companies can save up to 48 percent by implementing solutions that are part of an integrated platform rather than using and integrating point solutions from different vendors.

Financial savings come in multiple forms when using an integrated platform. When you purchase a point solution, you will find yourself having to purchase upgrades or entirely new solutions to keep up with technology. Think of it as replacing your VCR with a DVD player and then a Blu-Ray player. A cloud-based platform makes it possible for automatic updates when you need them. No new software, no hardware to manage or update because you always have the latest technology at your fingertips. It also means you can customize and manage any IT questions without extensive onsite development or add-on service fees.

In the end, the benefits of one consistent, scalable cloud-based platform outweigh a collection of the best point solutions out there.

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Comment by Michael L. Atkinson on April 9, 2012 at 8:14am

Nate, good post, thanks! I agree that a platform approach is a superior methodology, evidenced by FohBoh's ongoing efforts to create a social media platform. Whenever I meet with foodservice industry CEO's, invariably, the "I" word comes up. They, we, I believe, want a center for their SaaS products and solutions. But, this is harder than it looks to implement and integrate with disparate solutions. I think Apple finally succeeded in making believers out of all the open systems lobbyists, including, to a certain extent, Bill Gates. Apple is the world's most valuable company because they believed in the integrated platform model - making software, hardware and content seamless. 

At FohBoh, we see the world the same way. Imagine a foodservice operating system where software companies connect their cloud solutions to a central hub, like apps in iTunes. Operators connect to the platform and choose which solution - payroll, HR, scheduling, online takeout, reservations systems, social media monitoring, business intelligence, etc. and the vendors receive a 70% revenue share. In this vision, the better vendors win, fostering continued innovation to sustain the client. In this vision the restaurant operators win because they have access to data across the platform to better manage their businesses and remain competitive. Member operators could benchmark data against the industry, their segment, sub-segment and map results and trends to regions, even cities.

Nate, I agree, that silos are old news, SaaS is the future and accessing a platform would be valuable for both vendor and operator. I also firmly believe there is an opportunity for a technology driven transformation of the foodservice industry. 

Comment by Steven Groves on April 5, 2012 at 4:14pm

Have seen several efforts in developing a platform product like the one you refer to and would love to hear what platforms / vendors you think are doing a good job at bringing one to market.  The scope of a system that just handles all the FOH, marketing and social content would be a huge find today I think.

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