Automation doesn't necessarily mean a reduced head count

Airport restaurant management firm deploys iPads, increases IT hiring

OTG Management, which operates restaurants in airports, has installed iPads and credit card readers at seats in terminals to allow customers to place orders and pay bills without human assistance. Despite the self-service automation, the company is actually doing more hiring, reports Patrick Thibodeau at Computerworld.

The iPad deployment has been underway for about two years, beginning with JFK and LaGuardia airports. This year, OTG is looking to install the devices at airports in Minneapolis and Toronto, bringing the total deployment to 7,000 iPads.

Although the tablets and card readers eliminate some of the tasks typically handled by wait staff, the automation has not been an excuse to reduce headcount, Thibodeau reports. Instead, employees are expected to provide improved service, said Albert Lee, CTO at OTG.

"A lot of people, unfortunately, look at this as a staff reduction exercise and they are doing it so they don't have to answer questions with real humans, and I think that's the biggest mistake in the industry," he said. "This is a tool to ensure the accuracy of an order, a tool to empower the customer, "but the service still remains the same."

For more:
- see Patrick Thibodeau's article at Computerworld

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