Skip main navigation

Automate and informate

Automating the front end of a business, provides an opportunity to informate and make decisions in the back end of the business.
Divya, owner of Pic Nic Pak has been surprised by how quickly there have been improvements by using the new system. Automating the order taking process has had a positive effect on many facets of the business. Divya notices that there has been an increase in profit. Diyva can see that the wait staff don’t walk around the cafe as much as they used to. Whilst taking orders, they are now able to chat easily with the customers, which seems to make the customers happier. Another obvious improvement is less mistakes in the preparation areas, resulting in less wastage. Divya decides to look into her financial transactions and is pleasantly surprised that her revenue figures have increased. This is partly due to upselling.
The handheld menu system features a reminder to wait staff to recommend appropriate wines and side dishes that go together with what customers have ordered. Knowing which wine goes with which main course may take a long time to master. Having the system allows the business to hire wait personnel who do not have much experience and perform the job just as well. The handhelds also remind wait stuff of various specials on offer. With the manual system, additional items perhaps mistakenly were not added to the bill, but now the additional items cannot be prepared unless they are recorded through the system. The flow-on effect here is that undercharging no longer occurs.
Finally, Divya has noted that the accuracy of data produced by the system has enabled her to plan better. This translates into accurate inventory management. Restaurants often deal with perishable items. Overstocking may lead to food wastage, whereas understocking leaves chefs not being able to meet customer demand. Divya can also see which items are growing in popularity in order to design new menu items that fit latest food trends dynamically.

Information is the other side of the automation process: to automate also means to ‘informate’.

The automatic collection of data enable many more details to be recorded. So automating the front end of a business provides an opportunity in the back end of the business to make better decisions with the information gathered.

Understanding automate and informate

In the last few steps, we have talked about automation in relation to the cafe Pic Nic Pak. In essence, aspects of the business were automated that were previously done manually.

Once you have automated you can start informating. This is the process of increasing effectiveness through the acquisition of information and distilling that information into new knowledge.

Now management can analyse the data to drive other business decisions. Better decisions impact returns on investments.

Your task

What kind of information might the new automated system at Pic Nic Pak give the owner, Divya? How would this automation make the business more competitive?

This article is from the free online

Competitive Advantage: Using Information to Build Business Success

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now