Love of Local Restaurants Leads Rising Star to Tap Technology to Solve Challenges
Jen Lesniak, Senior Director of Consumer Products at SpotOn, was presented with the Top Women in Restaurant Technology – Rising Star award at MURTEC.
“I'm overwhelmed with gratitude and completely honored to be receiving this,” Lesniak said. “When I joined SpotOn, I was given the privilege of leading an online ordering team in an effort to completely re-envision the product to provide the best experience for our restaurants and their guests. In a short period of time, I was able to hire top talent, completely redesigned the product and launch a new version.
“The new version is not only more stable, it is higher performing, and it also gives our clients 30% more in sales. I'm grateful for the incredible team supporting this initiative.”
For the Love of Local
The Chicago resident’s love of dining out led her to a career in restaurant technology.
“My husband and I love to eat out at local restaurants, and we’ve made friends with many of the owners. Through the years, I’ve heard and experienced first-hand how technology wasn’t meeting their needs,” she explains. “I’m a problem-solver by nature, and I’ve spent most of my career in consulting helping businesses in a wide range of industries turn complex processes into simple experiences for their customers. When I was ready to leave consulting, there was this natural opportunity to bring together my passion for the restaurant industry with my ability to remove points of friction for customers.”
Lesniak is passionate about leveling the playing field, “by giving independent owners and operators …the tools and resources they need to deliver consistently engaging, memorable experiences to their guests at every touchpoint,” she says. “I’m about democratizing the tools and resources that are usually only available to larger companies.”
She loves working on technology that simplifies, streamlines, and elevates the experience independent restaurant owners want to deliver to their guests. “If you really want to hear me nerd out on what I love about technology in this space, I am almost embarrassingly passionate about solving ambiguous, complex problems, and uncovering which experience-enhancing technologies will keep customers coming back for more,” she explains.
Lesniak points to the rapid acceleration of digital technology as a silver lining from the pandemic. “We are living in wild times,” she says. “Much like we saw in retail many years ago, restaurant technology is going through a massive digital transformation, fueled by the pandemic. The amount of technology adopted in the last 12-24 months is what you’d typically see in a span of several years. It’s happening at a break-neck pace and it’s incredibly exciting.”
Customer expectations have dramatically shifted when it comes to the role mobile devices play throughout the dining journey, she adds. “They now expect to be able to use their phones to do anything from ordering to paying for added convenience and safety. The table stakes have changed, and restaurant owners are doing everything they can to add or enhance their technology to meet those changing customer needs -- from adding technology to support mobile ordering, pickup and delivery, to on-demand reservations and digital waitlists with greater transparency, to contactless payments, digital menus and loyalty programs.”
Now and in the future, “mobile devices are poised to play an even more pivotal role in evolving the dining experience,” Lesniak predicts. “I expect to see more immersive and collaborative experiences, as well as a diversification of methods used for personalization. We’ll see technology built to tailor the experience to each specific guest’s preferences and needs. There are so many directions the industry is broadening to encompass -- from AI to QR codes to the rise of digital wallets, crypto and NFTs. These have been trying times, for sure, but the innovation coming out of the struggles is super-charged and I’m so excited to be part of this moment in history!”
Lesniak was one of 10 women recognized in HT’s sixth annual Top Women in Restaurant Technology Awards, sponsored by Tillster, the global leader in powering online ordering and delivery solutions for restaurant brands.
HT will profile each of the winners in the coming weeks and in the summer issue of Hospitality Technology.
Who are the other Top Women in Restaurant Technology? Watch this 60-second video.!