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Chris Heard 2024 headshot
Chris Heard, CEO & Co-Founder, Olive

Our data shows that AI is streamlining resraurant analytics, personalization, and inventory. What AI opportunities and/or challenges do you foresee in 2024? 

AI is undoubtedly a hot topic in the restaurant technology space, with automation and robotics dominating the conversation. While the potential for AI to revolutionize the industry is immense, it's clear that we're still in the early stages of figuring out how to harness its full power. The hospitality industry will face the challenge of implementing these technologies to enhance customer experience without sacrificing the human touch. There will also be hurdles in integrating AI seamlessly into existing operations, ensuring data privacy and security and addressing potential job displacement concerns. Navigating these challenges will require careful planning, collaboration between industry stakeholders and a commitment to prioritizing both technological advancements and human-centric service.

Kitchen automation, IoT, and robotics are booming. How do you believe they can help solve for rising costs and staffing challenges?

The pandemic and ongoing labor shortage have accelerated technology adoption in restaurants. We're seeing more kiosks, QR codes, online ordering, and contactless payments today, personally, I can't help but feel nostalgic for the days of more personal interaction between staff and customers. Like it or not though, kitchen automation, IoT and robotics now play a crucial role in helping restaurants navigate rising costs and staffing challenges. Despite being an industry typically slow to adopt technology, smart restaurateurs quickly embraced digital solutions during the pandemic rather than cutting costs on technology. By streamlining back-of-house operations and reducing the need for manual labor, these technologies can help restaurants operate more efficiently and effectively

IT budgets continue to grow, including an increase in implementations of new solutions. What are some best practices for restaurant technology leaders seeking to maximize their investment dollars? 

It's encouraging to see restaurant executives recognizing technology's importance in driving revenue growth. As IT budgets continue to increase and technology leaders take on more responsibility for top-line growth, having a strategic approach to technology investments is vital. One best practice is to focus on solutions that can deliver measurable ROI, whether that's through increased efficiency, cost savings or enhanced customer engagement. For restaurant franchises, utilizing an RFP or sourcing tool can be a game-changer in maximizing investment dollars. By streamlining the software selection process, franchises can get stakeholder buy-in faster and start seeing ROI almost immediately. RFP tools help ensure that the chosen technology solutions align with the company's goals, integrate seamlessly with existing systems and scale with the business. Finally, don't underestimate the importance of training and change management when implementing new solutions. Ensuring your staff is comfortable and proficient with the latest technologies is critical to maximizing their impact on your bottom line.

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