Connecting the dots

Few weeks ago, I got an email from Panera  Bread about the launch of Panera 2.0. Panera describes Panera 2.0 as a “series of integrated technologies to enhance the guest experience for all consumers no matter how they choose to use Panera.” The press release added that “By separating the experience for ‘to-go’ and ‘eat in’ guests, Panera 2.0 further delivers on the power of personalization.” With this, Panera is introducing advanced to-go ordering, ordering from your table for dine-in and kiosks for faster checkout. I don’t know how much and how quickly customers would adopt this but I see it as a great example of how marketing and IT have to work hand in hand to launch this kind of “experience.”

I agree to call it an “experience” since this is not really a new product or promotion, but Panera’s marketing is trying to enhance the customer touch points. I am sure that they have a solid IT platform which allowed them to built these new services on top of the existing service packages. It is important to note that 100 percent of Panera’s franchisees have agreed to upgrade to Panera 2.0.

I relate the announcement to the marketing course and to the recent course on Strategic IT Alignment (GR601, which I took during the summer). In GR601 we discussed why most companies still consider IT as a support function while the smart ones have realized the strategic importance of IT in running and growing their businesses. We also discussed the many challenges faced internally  in adopting unified IT platforms; read cases where even seasoned technology companies have struggled with IT projects; and learned how to identify and address the risks associated with IT deployments and IT outsourcing.

With a shorter semester, the classes were long, but I thoroughly enjoyed the course. Most of all I enjoyed the discussions with other students — in the class and during the break in the middle of the class. The only thing we missed was some coffee, with the café closed for the summer break.

Now I am enjoying some time off before I take on another of the Foundation courses in two weeks.

You can read/watch more about Panera 2.0 here.

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