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Has the pandemic changed the way we dine, forever? Restaurants from formal dining to fast casual, sole proprietors to national chains, are making the adjustments for survival and growth. Diners, employees, and executives are all working through the pandemic to deliver great tasting food, provide more transparency to the menu, and deliver a work environment that is safe for employees.
Without certainty of the future, blockchain technology is providing trust and visibility in operations, finance and diner experience. Let’s examine how this new technology is shaping and will continue to form our future as diners and executives.
To illustrate the impact, let’s take a look at the industry through the lens of a fictional restaurant group we’ll call Transparent Dining. Transparent Dining is a national eatery with dine-in, drive-thru, pick-up, and catering options. The locations are in suburbs with larger office complexes.
Customer interaction has moved to contactless via QR menus, online ordering, and cashless payments. The menu highlights the best in plant-based proteins. Sourcing is local and locations are served by micro distribution centers where all product can be received and delivered within 12 hours. Diners rate Transparent Dining high for good taste and trust on how the food was handled from farm to the restaurant.
While drive-thru sales are growing at an unprecedented rate, Transparent Dining is looking forward to more diners in-house. This moment in time has the executive team also seeking to improve the entire business. Specific areas include:
- Providing current and prospective employees and health officials with new return to work policies and improved skill development and tracking
- Financial improvements with lease management and dispute resolution
- Operational improvements in inventory and waste disposal while sharing the grower’s story with the customer to improve the brand experience
While further understanding their needs and determining the best approach, Transparent Dining has uncovered other companies that have been addressing the employee, financial and operational improvements.
Healthy and trained employees
“I feel valued at Transparent Dining and would like my colleagues to know I am taking care of my personal health,” says an assistant manager.
Blockchain moment #1: Provide a way to securely and privately validate the health status of an individual. IBM has been working with companies to launch the IBM Digital Health Pass to help organizations verify an individual’s health status while protecting personal privacy. IBM has also helped in matching personal protective equipment between suppliers and services with the help of the Trust Your Supplier solution.
In parallel, Transparent Dining traditionally promotes from within based on skill attainment. External hires applying for senior level roles, need to have validated skills.
Blockchain moment #2: Enhance the current systems by using blockchain to encode the skill attainment and validating external hires credentials. IBM Blockchain Platform has helped companies like Credly, establish an immutable blockchain verification platform for badging and hiring.
Improving financial resolution
The finance team at Transparent Dining is a collection of heroes who move mountains of paper and pick up the phone to resolve issues. A couple examples: Transparent Dining has been on the receiving end of some great properties where leases are expiring and have actually lost a couple prime locations due to paperwork not being completed.
Blockchain moment #3: Provide a systemic process to identify lease expirations for non-owned properties, better manage existing location expiration, and provide a shared ledger for all related paperwork. IBM Blockchain Platform’s Documents Module can help.
Additionally, Transparent Dining has a few suppliers who provide great food. However, the amounts and timing of receipt is not what was expected/contracted and many hours are spent reconciling (without confidence) that the amount, dollars, and times are right.
Blockchain Moment #4: Minimize the number of disputes, the amount of time researching them, and allow team members to focus more on analytics and supporting operations. The Home Depot has rolled out a dispute resolution blockchain to help address similar concerns.
Overall, the supply chain at Transparent Dining is pretty well linked, however there are still two areas of need. First, given the nature of the plant-based proteins, regulatory oversight and compliance is a big concern and requires a lot of work.
Blockchain moment #5: The expression “not all data is equal” is common and in blockchain networks some participants have more or less to gain. In this situation, having the regulatory body on a blockchain network can ensure the right information, making lives easier in the organization while also providing a subset of that information to other partners. IBM has worked closely with the FDA on pharmaceuticals and the FDA has also developed a blueprint for blockchain.
The second area of need is tied to waste. Transparent Dining works very hard with the local community to donate food to local foodbanks. As new locations are opened, new relationships and agreements need to be established in an auditable way.
Blockchain moment #6: Onboard partners quickly and provide transparency to the movement of food. IBM has deployed a blockchain solution in the UK for food waste and is further developing the capability on the IBM Food Trust network.
For the area of quickly onboarding participants quickly, the Trust Your Supplier blockchain network demonstrates a way to move a large group of suppliers onto a network where they own and manage their own data and provide a fast way to onboard new suppliers.
Keep your menu fresh
Transparent Dining is demonstrating the ability to adapt quickly to the current environment while using this time to also gear up for the future. A future where consumers are using QR codes to determine track food provenance, employees are developing and sharing skills, and supply chains are seeing end-to-end transactions and applying artificial intelligence to generate higher returns. Blockchain is at the center of working in new, fresh ways.
Your company can get started by discussing these solutions with IBM blockchain Services team. We’ll help you select the right use case for your network or the industry, identify the critical data to be shared, and establish the framework for a successful MVP and production deployment.