TGI Fridays: 3 lessons from an iconic restaurant brand about keeping up in the digital era

Sherif Mityas, chief experience officer at TGI Fridays
Key Points
  • Sherif Mityas, chief experience officer at TGI Fridays describes the key lesson the restaurant chain learned: if digital transformation fundamentally changes what a company is about, it has not been executed right.
  • Companies that think they can achieve digital transformation without external partners will fail, she says.
  • Always ask: "Is it right for the customer?"
Beyond Meat alternative protein patties inside a TGI Friday's restaurant in Moscow, Russia, on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019.
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

CNBC's Technology Executive Council is dedicated to the digital transformation of companies and organizations across sectors of the economy. Sherif Mityas, chief experience officer at TGI Fridays, recently provided CNBC TEC with three lessons the privately owned restaurant chain has learned as part of its own digital transformation.

1. Go slow, internally and externally, because there is no reward for speed.

When attempting to fundamentally change the business model of a 50-plus-year-old organization, you need to take the time to ensure that your team members — from the C-suite down to the hourly employee — understand the purpose and vision of what you're trying to accomplish.

The journey in this case is as important as the destination. This includes the change for your consumers as well. You need to earn the right to engage and develop new relationships built upon digital interactions that may be very different from the past. The key is to be authentic to who you are throughout the journey.

Digital transformations don't involve changing who you are and what you stand for; it's about amplifying your values and engagement with team members and guests for today's world and ever-increasing expectations from the marketplace.

2. Don't go it alone — partnerships will be the difference between success and failure.

The biggest mistake you can make is to assume that either you know it all or you can figure it out on your own. The pace of change and technological advancement today will far outpace anything your internal teams can manage in addition to doing their "day job."

There are so many great, established and new potential partners across the technology sector that can help infuse specific and timely knowledge into the process, resources that help you accelerate your journey and sidestep the minefields that others before you have experienced. There are only a few companies out there that can do everything in-house. For most brands whose primary business is not technology, the partnerships you make and leverage will be the difference between success and failure.

3. Start with the end consumer.

Many times you can get distracted by what an internal team wants to add or change through a digital transformation. But if it doesn't favorably impact the end consumer and you can't measure that impact, then it doesn't matter.

We ask one question before we embark on any initiative within our organization: Is it right for the guest?

If it doesn't pass that hurdle, then it doesn't move forward.

The second question: Will it have a return on investment?

We need to be able to measure the impact of everything we do across our digital transformation and ensure it continues to positively contribute to our future performance and financial goals.

Finally, we ask: Can we execute it?

Even the best idea is a non-starter if we can't operationalize it across all our locations and guests in a consistent fashion. At the end of the day, we're all working on behalf of our guests, fellow team members and shareholders — never lose sight of that.

By Sherif Mityas, chief experience officer at TGI Fridays and a member of the CNBC Technology Executive Council

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Ogi Redzic, chief digital officer at Caterpillar
Key Points
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  • The industrial machinery giant debuted it first autonomous mining truck in 1996.
  • Predictive analytics and 5G technology are among the latest trends Caterpillar is planning around.