The Rise of Artificial Intelligence in the Restaurant Industry Is Coming Sooner Than You Think

September 9, 2019

It’s probably not the first time you’ve heard about AI (Artificial intelligence) technologies coming to convert human resources into machine work. AI already surrounds us, changing many traditional industries – and it’s now entering the restaurant business too

Making a pizza or grilling a burger has nothing to do with cutting-edge AI, you might be thinking. But actually, even that isn't true anymore.

Actually, even that isn’t true anymore. You can already see a few startups, backed by large Silicon Valley VCs, attempting to automate the process of making food. Spyce, where robots cook a meal (EATER), is just one example. Artificial intelligence (AI) has already begun to infiltrate multiple areas in the restaurant industry, including reservations, order-taking, and most importantly, customization and personalization.

Restaurants moving into the digital space make AI more important than ever

Moving to POS cloud-based solutions was the real trigger for restaurants shifting to digital, a space that is growing exponentially (and it’s just the beginning….). This move to cloud-based solutions dramatically increased the content generated by customers and, more importantly, the access to raw data. Combined with the fact that the customers’ main access point is via their mobile devices (apps, browsers, socials) – the data leak is exploding!

The key to understanding your customers lies in Big Data, AI and Machine Learning

With the explosion of traffic and data set to only increase in the coming years, businesses will need help capturing all of it, analyzing it, and then making smart decisions – all while maintaining personal relationships. Even answering basic questions will become crucial: Who are my customers? What are their preferences? What should the menu be? Which business decision is the right one for me to expand my business? And many more.

The change is already here

Harnessing these new technologies, like machine learning, will help businesses better understand their customers’ behaviors and, by extension, influence their purchase decisions. All potential resources will become key: POS transactions, Mobile apps, social networks, weather, traffic…the list is endless. Think of personalizing the message to each customer – from menu viewing, to individual messages, to tailored promotional campaigns, and more.

Technology is becoming the growth engine for businesses

“Technology is a critical element of our Velocity Growth Plan, enhancing the experience for our customers by providing greater convenience on their terms,”

- McDonald’s president and CEO Steve Easterbrook.

Recently, McDonald's acquired a data personalization company for $300M, becoming in the process an immediate leader in customer analytics (TechCrunch). This won’t be the last acquisition of its kind in the restaurant space. Appfront’s mission is to level the playing field, bringing the same AI and machine learning technologies like those available to Amazon and McDonald’s to smaller restaurant outlets that, because of increased competition, need it more than ever.

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