Pubs need to ask hard questions of post-lockdown tech partners

By Stuart Stone contact

- Last updated on GMT

Tech troubles? the digitisation of sites and operators 'not necessarily knowing what they don't know' is a huge concern for post-lockdown pubs according to Wi5's Prask Sutton
Tech troubles? the digitisation of sites and operators 'not necessarily knowing what they don't know' is a huge concern for post-lockdown pubs according to Wi5's Prask Sutton

Related tags: Technology, Public house

Pubs using tech solutions to tackle challenges posed by social distancing in reopened sites need to get tough on new partners to avoid ‘nasty’ shocks further down the line, according to Prask Sutton of Wi5 Technologies

Founder and CEO of the tech business, Sutton says the rollout of new order and pay technology in a bid to minimise points of contact between guests and customers when pubs reopen, provides an opportunity for pub staff to focus on hosting, service and effectively “add hours back onto a shift”. 

​In these times of unusual circumstance, you always see a great push forward with technology,” he adds.

However, Sutton explains while the advent of new apps and technology since pubs closed on 20 March has been rapid, the fact publicans preparing to reopen their sites don’t necessarily have the time and resources to expand their digital knowledge – and ask the right questions – at the same pace is a concern. 

“That's my biggest fear,” he tells The Morning Advertiser (MA)​, “the digitisation of these businesses and people not necessarily knowing what they don't know.”

Challenge new tech partners

Further reading on GDPR and pubs

  • How pubs can stay on top of GDPR​ - Implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on 25 May will affect all organisations from head office level down to individual premises. 
  • GDPR guide: are you ready for the new data protection rules?​ - All businesses must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the deadline is looming. Do you know what you need to do?
  • GDPR has been seen as evolution​ - One year on from the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and no doubt you remember the seemingly endless number of emails filling up inboxes last year.
  • GDPR is coming: data protection regulations​ - New data protection rules are looming with the threat of eye-watering fines for breaching the privacy of individuals. Pubs have much to do ahead of the General Data Protection Regulation coming into force in May.

Sutton explains seeking experienced partners with strong credentials can help operators new to digital services navigate what measures such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) - the legal framework for the collection and processing of personal information - could potentially become a digital minefield.

“If someone is proffering a digital solution ask them about safeguarding, ask them about what measures are in place,” he says. “What accreditation do they have? Who are their partners? Who is actually accepting the payments, who is the acquiring bank? All these sorts of things.

“You want to make sure you're dealing with experienced players in the space and it isn't just somebody whose knocked up a website because they've seen the opportunity and have suddenly come up with something to service a clear need. 

“There's so much that's sprung up since the pandemic hit, so many solutions – I'll probably see dozens every day and you just think anybody using that could be in for a real nasty shock at some point.

“It's just sad because you think a lot of businesses have probably gone for them because of price – but if anything they're inviting a whole host of other problems that they probably don't realise exist just to compound the struggles that have been created by the pandemic.” 

Managing customer data

Sutton adds that probably the most important thing in transitioning from an offline business to more digital solutions is appreciating the responsibility that comes with handling swathes of sensitive customer data.

“I think there's a huge amount that people need to be aware of GDPR and data protection in general, the safeguarding of data, especially when you're talking about your customer's payment data,” he says.

“This isn't a case of simply accepting credit cards through people's phones or whatever - there are a lot of people out there who maybe don't have the experience of this and don't understand the responsibilities and the safeguarding that needs to be put in place.” 

Again, Sutton states that this can be tackled by quizzing new tech partners on their approach and examining their accreditation and GDPR credentials. 

“There can be a tendency for people to look at something, especially if they don't have an in depth understanding of it and just think 'what's cheapest’,” Sutton says.

“Short sightedness is going to come back to haunt some people because what we are talking about here is businesses becoming very digital and the amount of data flowing through these businesses presents a huge risk if that data isn't being looked after and the right measures aren't being put in place.”

Related topics: Technology

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