When Patrick Benson joined Ovation Brands back in September 2013, he was given a tall order: modernize an array of legacy IT systems that could no longer keep up with the restaurant-chain conglomerate's business processes.
"I was strapped to a rocket and shot out of a cannon," said Benson, the company's CIO. "My job was to figure out what tools were needed."
Originally founded in 1983 under the name Old Country Buffet, Ovation had grown considerably over the years to comprise more than 300 restaurants in 35 states, operating under brands including Tahoe Joe's Famous Steakhouse and Ryan's.
"We were conducting business in a much different way that was better and faster than our systems could keep up with," Benson explained.
Roughly 18 months later, Benson and his team are about a month into a brand-new Oracle Cloud implementation that's at least as notable for its consumer-style interface as for its ability to support the way the company's employees work today.
Instead of text-driven, data-intensive flash reports to wade through each day for key metrics such as sales per restaurant and food cost per guest, for instance, the new system offers a visual way to view and understand the data, with the ability to drill down for more detail.
Ovation data collected by Oracle's Micros Simphony point-of-sale systems is uploaded throughout the day to the Oracle Cloud. Managers can use the company's MyMicros BI and Micros InMotion mobile tools to view it in visual fashion across myriad desktop and mobile devices. Key dimensions are frequently represented as concentric circles, with the ability to color-code for visual cues. Users can sort, filter and analyze the data across multiple regions, down to the specific line items of individual guest checks, all in near real time.
The result is that Ovation's business users can more easily identify what's important.
"We run self-service restaurants," Benson said. "We don't need our store managers wading through pages of data, and we don't need or want an enormous support staff trying to generate reports that are stale as soon as they come out. We needed self-service tools to put in front of users."
It's a trend that has become more evident with just about every new enterprise application to debut recently: the traditional, text-driven and often unintuitive interface once common in enterprise software is increasingly a thing of the past. Taking its place is a more visual, intuitive, cross-platform and mobile-inspired experience that can better satisfy what today's users expect.
"Traditionally, IT has done a great job of building and deploying highly functional systems for our users, but not so great a job at making those systems user-friendly, intuitive or easy to use," said Sheldon Smith, director of technology innovation for SaskPower, a Saskatchewan-based electric utility.
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