QSR drives a more personalized customer experience with a digital-first strategy

Snapshot

When Covid-19 shuttered in-person dining around the globe, an international quick-service restaurant chain (QSR) with more than 5,000 locations had to immediately pivot to a digital-first strategy as customers were forced into either drive-thru or digital channels. This shift in customer traffic presented an even bigger challenge for this QSR because it had a legacy data estate unprepared for the extraordinary increase in traffic. This company worked with Blueprint Technologies to develop a virtualized modern data estate to improve the quality of and access to its data, which enabled faster, more effective decision-making and allowed it to drive a more personalized customer experience.

Our work

The problem

Data should be at the heart of any business decision, no matter the industry, but access to timely, accurate data is especially critical in the QSR space. The executive, finance and marketing teams need access to real-time information on top-selling menu items in different regions, across different channels and throughout different dayparts to react in real time to ever-changing customer preferences. The CFO needs high-quality sales data as input and success criteria for critical forecasts and projections. But for any QSR to accomplish these goals, all of its systems must work together to provide timely, accurate data.

Over the years, this QSR invested heavily into building new systems, services and data warehouses to support its digital expansion and growth goals. While this created a rich technology environment, it also siloed data across 36 competing systems. Differing business rules and logic caused reports to display inconsistent data on different schedules for different audiences. Days spent validating and manually copying data from one system to produce critical reports resulted in employees losing trust in the data and making decisions based on intuition rather than information.

The Blueprint Way

As Blueprint recommends for all clients, this project began with a Course of Action Assessment. We cataloged the various data feeds, mapped the data integration points and documented all the BI systems used to consume and distribute data. Throughout the assessment, Blueprint identified user friction points and several key opportunities for the QSR to better leverage its data.

Blueprint then designed a simplified data architecture capable of accurate, near real-time reporting and created a roadmap to reach the QSR’s desired cloud-based future state. The roadmap included Blueprint’s recommendations on which legacy systems to retire and how best to consolidate its BI systems to facilitate critical, timely data access. This roadmap also became the guide to building a modernized data platform that consolidates and connects all the company’s data into a single, accurate source of truth.

Blueprint broke the implementation of this virtualized modern data estate roadmap into a phased approach, identifying high-profile quick-to-value scenarios and completing projects against agreed-upon success criteria. We leveraged our organizational change management division to engage and ready stakeholders in each of the organization’s domains for the future state architecture and new ways of working. Our teams also worked side by side with the organization’s data governance group to engage stewards to ensure data quality across each project. Lastly, Blueprint worked extensively with our client’s cloud provider and its other technology partners to improve existing systems and optimize them for the future state.

Data virtualization will be critical to the success of the QSR’s new data architecture because it provides lightweight and secure access to the company’s data, both internally and externally. Traditional data estates require a heavy amount of labor to build and manage data pipelines and system integrations. Most organizations are not built, nor have the desire, to spend their limited resources on this legacy function. The data platform Blueprint built includes Conduit, a data virtualization product that allows organizations to provide secure links to data feeds, API endpoints to data, including metadata and orchestration, and connectors for utilities such as Power BI, Tableau, Looker and Excel. Leveraging Conduit allows organizations to access quality data faster and remove a significant cost to building and maintaining their data estate.

The first data added to the QSR’s new modernized data estate was the point-of-sale data from corporate-owned stores, but several sources of data will eventually be included, including data from franchises and international stores, ghost kitchens and the company’s back-of-house systems. Once complete, the QSR will have a fully modernized data platform that is easy to navigate, flexible and scalable. With centralized data, executives, franchisees and store managers alike will have access to critical, real-time information to drive business decisions, and the QSR will be able to create more valuable and personalized customer experiences.

“The work Blueprint is doing will allow us to fully leverage our data to make business decisions,” one executive said. “This is the clearest view we’ve ever had of a successful path forward; I’ll finally be able to take a vacation.”

Impact

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