New technology and new standards leave a lot to unpack.

Across the quick-service industry, the pandemic accelerated the adoption of technology—Brad Wise, president of SageNet, estimates that some brands saw 10 years of tech adoption play out over the course of just a few months.

These technologies, implemented mostly to help facilitate the off-premises experience, will now have a new, additional set of demands placed on them as diners feel increasingly comfortable returning to dining rooms. The shift back toward a new normal has led SageNet, a managed services provider of hardware and software solutions, to coin the term “The Great Reconnect.”

“Now, as people start to get back outside of their homes and see friends and family, they’re looking to reconnect, and so often that reconnecting takes place in restaurants,” Wise says. “We view it as our job to help restaurant operators prepare for returning to that in-store dining experience—in addition to the off-premises channels that will remain strong into the future—in any way we can.”

Consider the range of technology that now drives the guest experience: Online ordering has become table stakes. Digital signage displays menus, but also outlines safety precautions so guests feel comfortable. Guest Wi-Fi connectivity serves a generation of consumers more online than ever before. Each connected device requires bandwidth, and a reliable network, but it also opens brands up to other ugly realities, like cybersecurity threats.

The news is filled with headlines of ransomware and data breaches—in fact, the FBI reported a 66 percent increase in ransomware cases in 2020—as well as lesser known stories of hackers projecting unseemly images on digital signage. One way SageNet is helping restaurant brands avoid these costly and reputation-damaging pitfalls is Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), a combatant of cybersecurity threats.

“EDR is basically anti-virus on steroids, constantly monitoring and responding to cyber threats,” Wise says. “Operators often wonder, ‘Why would somebody hack my small store?’ But that’s the exact behavior hackers are looking for. They go in and find the most vulnerable link in the larger chain, and they are able to prey on that.”

SageNet prides itself on connecting, managing, and protecting hundreds of thousands of digital devices for the customers they work for on a 24/7 basis with an emphasis on being able to scale it across a brand’s footprint. With three network/security operations centers that operate at all hours, restaurant operators can rest easy knowing their stores and equipment are being watched and protected at all times. In this way, SageNet is facilitating the Great Reconnect so that operators can focus on reconnecting with their customers, while providing a space for their customers to reconnect with family and friends.

“This is complicated stuff that can overwhelm IT departments,” Wise says. “But we’ve got 450 really smart, dedicated people that live and breathe trusted connections. That’s our differentiating factor: our people, our resources, and our processes that are built to scale to infinity.”

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