When network outages and data security concerns threatened to damage a highly-recognizable casual dining brand’s reputation, they knew that serious changes were necessary to bring the digital experience to life within their restaurants.
As successful restaurants today know, it’s not just about the food anymore. Ultimately, people are going to the establishment to eat or drink, but more and more, customers view a restaurant’s digital offerings as an appetizer to the overall guest experience.
The companies top priorities were protecting the brand, providing technology that would enhance the customer experience, and driving revenue. The responsibility for making these improvements fell to the IT team. With hundreds of locations across the country, the network consisted of multiple vendors and different technology that often lacked redundancy.
The company had a vision to improve the guest experience by deploying a network that would enable real-time order entry and credit card transactions via servers’ tablets, while also providing guest WiFi service. The solution had to include performance, security and resiliency to maximize uptime.
The IT team saw the answer in a streamlined, unified network managed by a single provider in which every restaurant was configured the same way. High-availability SD-WAN with dual access, MPLS and broadband was installed at each location with cloud-based firewalls to protect both WAN connections. The new network they now have is an active/active configuration with dynamic failover that virtually eliminates downtime. The SD-WAN solution also supports UCaaS (unified communications as a service) for a complete phone solution and Secure WiFi service.
In addition to the benefits that the actual technology and solution provided, the customer also was able to take advantage of our Professional Services offering. The Professional Services team took the time to understand business priorities before implementing a solution that included installation and cabling for phones and WiFi. Improvements to the customers WiFi system have been critical to improving the guest experience. With WiFi, the restaurant captures important information and preferences about the guest by leveraging marketing analytics technology and can use that data to offer future rewards programs such as discounts and other perks for high-value customers.
The restaurant achieved the goal of one service provider to manage everything network related including issue management and ancillary equipment including switches and CPE. Having a single service provider ensured every restaurant was configured the same way, and the help desk now provides a consistent level of support.
The IT team is very pleased with the results. “SD-WAN has outperformed our expectations. Since implementing SD-WAN, we’ve seen network performance uptime improve dramatically, and we estimate that repair tickets have been reduced by about 90%.” At the same time, the improved network function has freed the IT staff to shift from emergency network management and repairs to now focusing on strategic enhancements that utilize the new SD-WAN and WiFi capabilities to drive revenue and retain customers. They are also increasing their use of the cloud, with about 25% of their applications now cloud-based, and more are planned as they decommission collocated applications.
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