Sustainable Social Systems: Innovative Service Implications in the Restaurant Business in the Post-COVID Era with Digital Transformation Strategies
The COVID-19 pandemic led to changes in and modifications of the role of information and communication technologies in the digitalization of service provision. This paper aims to identify and summarize these changes in business operations, in the context of strategic management in the restaurant industry, triggered by COVID-19. Based on in-depth interviews with 16 key experts in the restaurant industry (CEOs of chain restaurants), this paper clarifies and concretizes the rapidly transforming problem of identifying the main changes in the restaurant market during the pandemic. These depend on a restaurant’s adaptation level to the challenges that arose, using three dimensions (consumer demand, corporate strategy optimization, and the use of the company’s innovative potential). The analysis shows that chain restaurants, which have sufficient resources to solve the problem of staff turnover, develop technological solutions, and build a brand and customer loyalty, were more resistant to problems arising from the spread of the coronavirus infection than other companies in the catering industry. The presence of serious problems associated with consumer demand and the optimization of the format of the offered dishes and service had a significant impact on the relationship between the impact of the spread of the coronavirus infection and the inability to adapt to the new reality of doing business. The findings reveal that companies need to expand their digital capabilities and adapt their management strategy to the post-pandemic conditions to adapt to the post-COVID-19 period. This paper serves as a framework for understanding the role of digital transformation in sustainable business development.