#Digital Transformation#Hospitality#Food & Drink

GOIKO: people-centric, technology-driven growth

Matt High
|May 18|magazine20 min read

In the 21st century, every company is a technology company. A global digital transformation is sweeping across the business landscape, prompting radical change as companies reevaluate best practices and embrace cutting edge solutions to create value. Nevertheless, a digital transformation for digital transformation’s sake is more likely to hurt your company than help it. As many as 70% of large scale digital transformation efforts end in failure, so how can companies ensure that their move towards Industry 4.0 is a successful one? 

“Nothing is more dangerous than a repetitive and hectic task with little purpose. If people get stuck doing these manual things, then they’re being prevented from living up to their full potential,” explains José Rafael Barreto Ibarra, CIO of GOIKO. “Technology grants you the superpower of giving you more time to come up with ways to delight the customer. You spend less time keeping the business running and more time designing, creating and analysing.” For Barreto and GOIKO, ensuring that technological adoption is aligned with the company’s goals and values is essential, especially as it enters a period of dramatic growth driven by those values. “Basically, since 2017, we’ve been growing at a rate of 2.5 new locations every month,” he says. “Now, we have almost 80. It’s been crazy and quite fun” We sat down with Barreto to discuss how GOIKO is using intelligently-selected, technology-driven change management strategies to support rapid and sustainable growth. 

The GOIKO story starts in 2013, when Andoni Goicoechea, a doctor from Venezuela working in Hospital La Paz in Madrid, decided to deliver a gourmet burger restaurant concept in Madrid (Goiko Grill) with the financial support of his father. Its current menu is influenced heavily by both Spanish and Venezuelan cuisine, and the company is dedicated to ensuring its burgers are of the highest quality. “Our quality hasn’t decreased since the day we opened, and it never will,” claims Andoni, who serves as GOIKO's CEO. “We’re only as good as the latest burger coming off our grill”. 

Andoni and Barreto have known each other since school. Their professional relationship began back in Venezuela, where Barreto ran a small boutique hotel business. “It was 2011, when marketers were just starting to recognise the potential of Instagram. We wanted to use it to showcase our beach hotel in Caruao” recalls Barreto. “We ended up hiring Andoni and his sister Daniela -who then became CMO in GOIKO- to be our community managers. Fast forward five years and we meet again in Madrid, where I get a call from Andoni.” At that time, GOIKO had already grown from its original single-room, 30-seat restaurant in Madrid to nine locations managed from a central office with a staff of fewer than five and, even though Andoni is a self professed tech geek, the company was without a dedicated technology expert. “I remember the call,” laughs Barreto. “He said, ‘the original store has an issue with the router. Can you fix it?’ and the rest is history. My friends used to joke about it because, from day one, I was made CIO of a company and I was basically the IT consultant, the wiring guy, the support team, the printer guy… and the CIO. That, along taking shifts and dealing directly with customers, was key to live and understand the whole thing”

Barreto attributes Goiko’s success since that time to a marriage of technology and the company’s core values: quality, efficiency, disruption, growth, good vibes, family, integrity and Mucho Kevin. 

Quality and Efficiency 

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Quotables

“It’s not like the old days when the manager would get a PDF or a spreadsheet emailed to them every two weeks” - José Rafael Barreto Ibarra, CIO, Goiko Grill

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From teques, Venezuelan style mozzarella fingers, and artisanally made burger buns, to the Aita burger, filled with Idiazábal cheese and piquillo peppers, Goiko takes great pride in the fact that its menu is fresh, made in-house from locally-sourced ingredients and always cooked to order. “We take great care of the details of every process, product and service, so we can be sure that we’ve exceeded expectations every single time,” says Barreto. “Then we have efficiency. We always make sure we’re comparing and evaluating our performance to achieve efficiency and sustainability.”

In order to help ensure that efficient operations are supporting the delivery of a top quality product, Goiko is using an intelligent integration of third-party solutions that enable point of sale (POS) support, online ordering and, perhaps most importantly, stock control. “These pieces of software work together in the background to automatically give us great visibility of our stock levels, which supports smart ordering so that we don’t order too much or too little,” says Barreto. 

Disruption and Growth 

“We’re never finished; we’re always aiming for better,” says Barreto. “The ability to grasp huge amounts of information that technology provides is allowing us to constantly get better and better.” To ensure that the benefits of digital transformation are being felt across the company, Barreto is taking great care to democratise and make information-based insights accessible to a wider range of Goiko employees. “I'm not a huge fan of terms like Big Data, data science, KPIs and the like because I believe they create an instant barrier between ‘tech people’ and the waiters, chefs and managers in our locations,” Barreto explains. 

One way in which he’s worked to demystify the process of drawing actionable insights is through a change of delivery method. “We’ve shifted over to using word clouds and very simple graphs in order to make customer feedback trends understandable,” he says. “We take customer feedback and use machine learning to put it through our platform in a way that is easy for anyone to access at any time. It’s not like the old days when the manager would get a PDF of a spreadsheet emailed to them every two weeks.” 

This dedication to enabling every member of the Goiko family to use technology quickly and intuitively is present in every technological decision that Barreto makes, and he considers it to be a central element of the role of any CIO. “You’ve got to sell people on usability. We've seen a lot of systems, software and solutions that are like science fiction rocket ships. There are really complex algorithms that will do this and that, but when you get to the nitty gritty things, like you are sitting in front of it and you're going to use it, you need to pay serious attention to usability,” he says. “You need to think of a waiter with 30 people in line. There are kids crying in the dining room. The restaurant is completely packed. Can you use this software easily on a day-to-day basis or in an emergency? That’s basically the final deciding factor. If it’s not intuitive, then what’s the point? UX is so important, because you can have amazing functionality, but it doesn’t matter if it’s behind a poor interface.” 

Good Vibes, Family and Integrity 

This attentiveness to the needs of real people in the Goiko family is at the heart of the company’s entire ethos. “We treat people with respect, and cultivate joy, patience and enthusiasm,” says Barreto. “That was the key ingredient I detected on day one, so taking the job was a no brainer. I think a lot of our growth has to do with the type of people that are serving the food and how we treat customers.” 

Mucho Kevin 

“This one is a little more ethereal than good vibes, but we try and embrace the idea of Mucho Kevin,” Barreto explains. “The Kevin Bacon Burger is our number one product and the value that we associate with it is that we’re not afraid of doing things a little differently. We’re not afraid of a little weirdness.” 

This readiness to step away from the herd and embrace kooky, different ideas is one of the reasons why, until now, Goiko hasn’t released its own app. “A lot of chains offer you an app with the classical functions like ordering, loyalty programmes, and so on. We didn’t want to walk that road just to be a part of the trend,” says Barreto. If Goiko makes an app, Barreto is certain that it has to be Mucho Kevin. “If we’re going to release an app, it’s going to be crazy,” he enthuses. “We’re really thinking out of the box and want to create something really special and cool - that obviously lets you order food as well of course.” 

The future is fresh 

Looking towards 2020, the development of an app is a key area of focus for Barreto and his team (he confirms that he’s no longer spending his days fixing printers and debugging the wifi) as the company continues to expand at lightning speed. With more than two new Goiko opening their doors every month, embracing employee-centric, intuitive technology that supports the automation of processes and lets the company’s employees focus on delighting every customer is going to be essential. Barreto will keep exploring new ways of making Goiko’s dashboards more friendly and making the information more digestible, as well as finding new ways to “apply RPA to the boring bits”. More than anything, however, Barreto and Goiko will continue to deliver on the core values that have made the company a genuine success story.

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