Business organizations have to keep themselves abreast of the changes in their business environment. In order to sustain in a challenging environment and achieve competitiveness in the industry, they have to ensure operational excellence and superior financial performance with each passing day (Attaran, 2004). With the evolution of Globalization and rapid advancements in the field of Information Technology, businesses find it quite harder to compete with the other industry participants with the help of their traditional business operations and processes (Kurtz & Boone, 2011). It has become a need of the present times to institute latest technological processes and systems in the business so that a traditional stone-age firm can operate like a competitive firm (Diorio, 2002). From purchase of raw material to the production, marketing, and sale of final products; each and every step in the business is now dependent on technology (Indulska, Green, Recker, & Rosemann, 2009). This paper focuses on highlighting the major areas where technology can help a small scale family owned business, DK's BBQ Restaurant to grow and operate in its industry in an effective and competitive fashion.
DK's BBQ Restaurant
DK's BBQ Restaurant -- a small chain of fast food restaurants was started by Dave D.K. Kodama in 1996 in Hawaii. Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar, D.K. Steak House, Vino Italian Tapas & Wine Bar, and Hiroshi Eurasi0n Tapas are the four famous restaurants which DK's operates in Oahu and Maui. The major product offerings of the restaurant include contemporary sushi, barbecue, sandwiches, wine, and different types of seafood recipes. DK's restaurant is a small scale family owned business which was setup by a man who had no experience in the fast food industry. To make his business successful, the owner D.K. Kodama analyzed the consumer preferences, life styles, and eating habits before expanding his business operations by opening new restaurants in the market. He found a great potential for the growth of his business in Hawaii market. Therefore, he introduced innovative fast foods in new restaurants in Maui and Oahu (DK's Restaurants, 2012).
These restaurants soon received great appreciation from the customers and enabled the owner to think about further expansions in the future. However, D.K. Kodama did not give importance to implementing the latest technological processes in his business which just restricted his business to a small local market. Despite the passage of more than 16 years, the business has not even crossed the local boundaries (DK's Restaurants, 2012). There is an immense need to bring improvements in the entire business setup so that D.K's BBQ Restaurant can sustain and grow in its industry, achieve operational excellence, and strengthen its relationships with the customers and supply chain members.
How technology can help DK's BBQ Restaurant succeed?
The question of how technology can help a business succeed can be answered in terms of its contributions in improving the performance of that business over time. The advancements in technology have completely changed the way businesses perform in a challenging business landscape. In order to ensure a sustainable future in this environment, businesses have to align their business operations with every new technology that brings revolution in the entire industry patterns (Kurtz & Boone, 2011). DK's BBQ Restaurant is a traditional family business that operates in the fast food manufacturing industry. Therefore, it has a wider business network and stakeholder relationships than firms in the services or trade industries. The technological needs are also greater in the manufacturing sector than they are in other industries (Rayport, Jaworski, & Jaworski, 2002). The following section shows how technology will affect the different areas of DK Restaurant's business operations:
Selection of Supply Chain Members:
Suppliers are the individual or firms that provide raw material to the business to manufacture its products while distributors are the firms that deliver these manufactured products to the company's outlets or to the final consumers at their doorsteps. If a firm wants to succeed in its industry, it has to select the best supply chain members from the market which are reliable in their duties and have a sound track record in their profession (Kurtz & Boone, 2011). The selection of these reliable suppliers and distributors is only possible if DK's Restaurant has a sound communication system to find out and contact the potential suppliers in the market or have capabilities to research about them over the internet (Attaran, 2004). In both these cases, DK's Restaurant needs to keep its links strong and stable with the outside world. If it builds relationships with the most reliable suppliers and distributors from the industry, it can get the best quality raw material which can be used in manufacturing the highest quality foods for the customers and deliver them to the required places with efficiency (Indulska, Green, Recker, & Rosemann, 2009).
Improvements in the Communication Systems:
Communication is an integral part of the life of individuals and businesses. It enables them to speak and share their messages to different people and businesses which have a direct or indirect stake in their operations or performance. For DK's Restaurant, the biggest benefit of technology can be realized in its communication patterns with its customers, suppliers, and distributors. For example, efficient communication systems will enable it to keep a check and balance of the inventory available with its different departments as well as with the suppliers. The implementation of advanced telephone networks will enable an efficient coordination among all the departments of the company which will ultimately contribute towards increasing its productivity (Diorio, 2002). The sales department can efficiently communicate with the purchase department about the current position of demand and supply of a specific product line. Similarly, the purchase department will be able to communicate the current status of its inventory to the suppliers who will deliver new supplies when the inventory runs short after a specific level. Moreover, internet, emails, online surveys, and other web services will enable DK's Restaurant to keep in touch with the suppliers, customers, governmental bodies, and distributes (Kurtz & Boone, 2011).
Improvements in the Customer Services:
Technology also plays a big role in improving the customer services of an organization. According to the most recent researches, the best customer service is to respond, on immediate basis, to the queries and questions which customers ask from the company on its telephones or website. Any delay in providing solution to those problems shows reprehensive poor customer services by the company officials. Technology can help DK's Restaurant to ensure an effective liaison with its customers; especially when the customers may order fast foods on telephone for deliveries at their doorstep (Stefan, 2003). In addition to the customers, the employees of DK's Restaurant will also keep themselves more aware of the activities and affairs of its other restaurants.
Having a sound communication, Internet, and telephone network at their workplace, the employees of DK's Restaurant will not face any difficulty in sharing important information with the employees in other departments and restaurants. Through internet and email, they will be able to send and receive important files, research for clients, suppliers, and potential markets in the country, and communicate important matters to the supervisors or upper level management in an efficient and effective manner (Indulska, Green, Recker, & Rosemann, 2009).
The efficient services provided to the customers will also help in increasing their satisfaction with the company. This satisfaction is the first step towards building long-term relationships with the customers (Sanders, 2007). The customers may have both positive and negative experience with DK's Restaurant. For instance, if a customer leaves the DK's Restaurant after enjoying a good food as well as superior customer services, he will not only come back in the future, but will also share his positive experience with the firm to his friends, family, and coworkers. Conversely, if he returns after a bad experience either with food or customer services or both; he will warn others from going DK's Restaurant (Stefan, 2003).
Customer Relationship Management (CRM):
There are also some specialized programs or software available in the market that assist business managers in their day-to-day tasks and responsibilities. Customer Relationship Management (Commonly known as CRM) is one of the best examples of such programs. This is a kind of software which facilitates businesses in a number of functions related to customer services; for example, storing, editing, arrangement, and management of information of individual customers, making it available when needed, providing contact information and purchase history till a specific date in the past, and acting as a computerized substitute to manual work and data entry in registers and notebooks. This business software can help D.K's Restaurant in a number of ways.
The biggest benefit is a better control over salary and administrative costs (Attaran, 2004). If D.K's Restaurant implements CRM software, it will bring efficiency in the performance of employees which will eventually increase its productivity (Rayport, Jaworski, & Jaworski, 2002). The need to hire new employees will also be eliminated due…