How Restaurants Can Make AI Effective


This day two keynote from the 25th anniversary Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology and Educational Conference (MURTEC) is available to view on demand.

Todd Michaud, Founder & CEO, Power Thinking Media , shared his insights on how artificial intelligence (AI) is being used in restaurants, what’s being done effectively and where the future is headed.

Michaud started by defining key terms. AI is “a system that operates without an explicit set of rules… It's a system that learns by reading data and reading itself and its system and it learns what to do,” Michaud explains. Machine Learning is when a system, “as a result of ingesting data, it's learning what to do” he adds. When a system has the ability to look at a picture or video a bunch of pictures and identify things in them, that’s computer vision.

“Once you understand how this technology works, you can start to envision how it could help your company,” Michaud advises. “Think of it more as a tool and not a solution.”


Todd Michaud shared his insights on how AI is being used in restaurants, what’s being done effectively and where the future is headed.

How AI Systems Learn

“It takes data in, it gets a result and says, ‘Hey, was my result right?’ If it was, if it wasn't, either way it adjusts,” he explains.

After training the system to review different orders coming into the system and reviewing past upsells, restaurants could use this tech to predict upsells, he says. 

Identifying Marketing Opportunities

AB subject line testing, optimizing send times and upsell automations are just a few of the AI-powered restaurant marketing tools.

“On the loyalty side and on the marketing side … AIs are really good at clustering people together,” Michaud explains, such as soccer moms, people who order on payday or people who order more than $50.

This process can lead to an epiphany of sorts. ”…You start seeing groups you never would have expected that your brand should market to and market to differently.”

Combined with computer visioning for traffic analysis and sales patterns, AI can be combined with sales forecasting to improve labor scheduling. “It only makes sense if you're going to be able to accurately predict the sales coming in the door, you can better predict your labor, “ Michaud says. 

The Future

For front and back of house, “Voice technology will be by far one of the biggest disruptors in this space because (typing on smartphones) is just not convenient,” Michaud explains. Imagine conversational ordering at the POS or being able to talk to a sensor on the table or wherever to execute the task.

Getting Started

For those interested in learning more about AI and machine learning, he recommends Brandon Rohrer’s YouTube channel and courses on Coursera.

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