Tech in check: QSR Brands' chief information officer Chong Chin Kan

QSR Brands, the operator of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut restaurant chains, in the region has big ambitions. The franchiesee has over 775 KFC restaurants in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Cambodia. It is also the operator of Pizza Hut in Malaysia and Singapore, with more than 390 restaurants and delivery concepts.

Currently one of the biggest quick service restaurant operators in Asia, the group recently appointed Chong Chin Kan (pictured) as the group’s chief information officer. Chong was last the corporate IT director for IDS Medical Systems, and was also the regional IT director for Keystone Foods, working across Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa.

In this edition of Tech in Check, we speak to Chong about his views around tech and the quick service restaurant industry.

A+M: What was your first digital role like?

Chong: As the chief information officer, my first role is to lay a solid long term digital vision that will create a positive brand experience and enhance our supply chain efficiencies overall.

We embrace digital as the core of our marketing and operations excellence, whereby we are giving our constant investment in our digital transformation journey in order to be constantly evolved. All of our restaurants today are equipped with digital features to ensure that we continue to provide the best restaurant experience to our customers.

A+M: What was your biggest tech booboo?

Chong: Managing expectations. We did not realise or fully understand our stakeholders’ requirements in developing a transformative plan. Laying down the foundation of technology is fundamental in every digital transformation journey. We should not ignore that foundation is necessary for any digital breakthrough and to have all key stakeholders involved at the start of the journey.

A+M: How did you overcome it and what did you learn from it?

Chong: We are amplifying our efforts in our digital transformation journey to bring the latest digital infrastructure into our restaurants and putting it as our main focus, as it is extremely instrumental for the organisation. With the strong support that we have received from the management, we are fortunate to be able to invest and embark on our brands’ digital transformation journey with ease.

A+M: What are some of the common challenges you face with digital today?

Chong: Like in many other industries, cybersecurity is a major threat in our business.  It is our responsibility to protect our customers’ data and ensure our online channels are secured. Digitalisation and cybersecurity need to be aligned and managed carefully to ensure our brand’s protection.

We have since embarked on an organisation wide cybersecurity initiative to address these concerns and are invested in ensuring customer data protection is our priority and taking measured steps to ensure that it is operational and effective.

A+M: Are there any digital trends which excite you or that you are wary of? If yes – why does it excite you/give concerns if any?

Chong: New ways of engaging customer through digital means is always exciting. It is our main objective to find ways to improve our customer experience and reinforcing brand value by bringing ease through ordering, payment or delivery, making it a quick, easy fast food experience. We constantly listen to our customers' feedback in order to improve our service. Understanding our customers' feedback is the key to improving our service both online and offline. Also, web analytics and data play a huge role as it is the fuel to power our digital platform optimisation and remarketing efforts from a CRM perspective.

We also embrace new technology, such as our newly launched chatbot solution that allows programmatic responses on social media. The bot technology allows users to communicate via chat for a quick and easy ordering experience of their favourite KFC meals.

In further enhancing our omni-channel brand experience, we will always challenge our status quo and explore new digital means. This is done by applying fintech payment solutions in our various customer touch-points, digital self-service kiosks, AI-powered solutions improving delivery rider tracker solution. We also work closely with our marketing team to deploy digital solutions in our commitment to create a cashless and mobile society.

Moving forward, we are committed to creating new and interesting ways to humanise brand exposure for our fans and netizens alike. To do this, we are leveraging on our strong presence across the largest social platforms. Social innovations have always been a key way of staying relevant and engaging with netizens. For example - we were the first brand to create a Facebook Live game show and GIF-first communication with consumers on a one on one basis.

A+M: Any top tips for marketers and brands embracing digital?

Chong : While being occupied with various digital innovations is thrilling, you have to build a strong digital foundation. It is important to get the right architectural design from a technology infrastructure and data architect perspective and to always align with the overall brand’s value context. The main priority in our industry is to bring the best customer experience, and we should approach this digital transformation journey in an agile manner that allows an efficient transition in adopting or evolving with any new technology in the future.

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