Technology that Turns Food Services into a Piece of CAKE

From humble beginnings to the arms of a formidable giant

A start-up with just five employees in 2007, Sysco LABS has expanded into an engineering organization at the forefront of the technology industry employing over 450 associates across multiple offices both in Sri Lanka and the U.S. Originally an incubator and consultancy known as Latitude655, the company went through several evolutions before being wholly acquired by international foodservice giant and Fortune
500 company Sysco, in 2016.

“Sysco recognized the small, agile company’s ability to solve the complex issues faced by restaurant operators with tech products; engineered and released into the market at a rapid pace.”

The CAKE restaurant operating system was the strongest example of this; an integrated and entirely cloud-based restaurant technology platform provided on a technology-as-a-service model; making leading-edge technology accessible to restaurants.

World-class products that propelled Sysco LABS

Sysco LABS is using technology to reimagine the entire foodservice journey with Sysco from the farm to the final point of consumption, the restaurant or the dinner table. They do this through developing leading edge technology to build disruptive products that change the way Sysco interacts with its stakeholders and customers.

With an office located in the Silicon Valley, Sysco LABS has access to leading companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon. Through a combination of this knowledge and the engineering acumen built within Sysco LABS, the company applies leading edge technology stacks, processes, best practices and approaches to implement their tech solutions.

Sysco LABS is working on the complete eco-system that encompasses all relationships between stakeholders in the foodservice journey, from the suppliers, to Sysco’s associates, Sysco’s customers and their respective customers. Each of these relationships contain multiple interactions and touch points. The technology that Sysco LABS creates combines some of these interactions while augmenting others.

Sysco, The Acquirer?

Sysco is the global leader in selling, marketing and distributing food products to restaurants, healthcare
and educational facilities, lodging establishments and other customers who prepare meals away from home. Its family of products also includes equipment and supplies for the foodservice and hospitality industries. With more than 69,000 associates, the company operates more than 320 distribution facilities worldwide and serves more than 650,000 customer locations. For fiscal 2019 that ended June 29, 2019, the company generated sales of more than $60 billion. As a leader on the forefront of food service, Sysco has been expanding its scope, acquiring the London-based Brakes Group in 2016 and deepening its involvement in Europe.

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From Farmers to Diners, Sysco LABS is transforming lives with continuous innovation

This acquisition and expansion uniquely positioned Sysco LABS. With the agile culture of a tech start-up and with access to the single largest foodservice network in the world through Sysco, Sysco LABS is perfectly poised to do to the entire foodservice industry what it did to the restaurant industry; to transform it with technology. Foodservice is one of the largest industries in the world, and there are many stakeholders between growing the food and consuming it, from farmers to restaurant operators and diners, etc. The goal of Sysco LABS will be to revolutionize the experience of each of these touchpoints using technology, setting the standard for customer service in foodservice globally.

Through Sysco LABS, Sysco is also looking at ways to completely re-imagine the food service industry through technology innovation. Sysco LABS was already engaged in this through its  restaurant technology platform CAKE, which was disrupting the restaurant customer relationship. But with Sysco’s acquisition and the expansion of the engineering center in Colombo, Sysco LABS will now be looking at every single interaction and touch point ‘from farm to fork.’

“When you’re a company in a small country you have to bet on quality and product innovation. Sri Lanka doesn’t have the capacity to compete on numbers the way that other Asian countries can in the IT-BPO scene, but that is also what drives us to excellence. It’s all about finding creative solutions to problems in industries and building products that solve them. That is how you create billions of dollars in value, in a short period of time.”

– Shanil Fernando, Managing Director Sri Lanka and Senior Vice President, Sysco LABS

The success of Sysco LABS is a testament to the caliber of product engineering that is possible in Sri Lanka.

This content has been produced within the framework of the EU-Sri Lanka Trade Related Assurance Project, funded by the European Union and implemented by ITC and UNIDO in partnership with the Government of Sri Lanka.

Island of Ingenuity is a collective of the knowledge services industry in Sri Lanka, whose ethos is to provide inventive solutions through proactive and flexible customer engagement. It is endorsed by the Sri Lanka Export Development Board, Sri Lanka Board of Investment, Sri Lanka Association of Software and Service Companies, Information & Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka and Federation of Information Technology of Sri Lanka.