RTN Market Watch, an HT exclusive, features thought leaders from the Restaurant Technology Network (RTN) community and their insights on what’s hot now and where the restaurant technology industry is headed. This edition: RTN thought leaders share their thoughts on the technologies poised to reap the greatest rewards.
Trending Now: The Kitchen and AI
“You will see a revolution in the kitchen, powered by artificial intelligence, computer vision and voice recognition technology. If you consider all the processes that should be followed, but aren’t always, and the statistic that 15% of restaurant orders are not prepared to guest expectations, you’ll agree that there are huge opportunities to use AI to better monitor, guide and enhance kitchen operations,“ says David Gosman, Global Industry Lead - Hospitality, HP.
Amesha Tate-Thomas, Marketing Manager, Rosnet, also sees the potential for AI and related technologies. “AI, robotics and machine learning have a big role in restaurants, and they are not just a trend. These innovations are helping operators fill the gaps left by the labor shortage. What was once a novelty is becoming a necessity.”
Maximizing Data and Analytics
Restaurant operators have multiple sources of data, and therein lies the challenge. “Nearly every process conducted in the restaurant is now tied to some form of technology,” explains Tom Seeker, CIO, Earl Enterprises. “From the initial orders to vendors, invoices, customers connecting to the guest network, loyalty programs, sales, labor… everything. The problem is turning extreme amounts of raw data into actionable facts. Data Warehouses and Business Intelligence in reporting have become the standard from enterprise to individual restaurants.”
When it comes to leveraging data analytics to create actionable insights, restaurants need a single source of truth.
“If information is spread across multiple applications, it’s often difficult to get a true picture of operations,” explains Tate-Thomas. “Having as much information as possible in one platform is key to operationalizing data at a new level to increase efficiency across the board. For example, something as simple as pulling in weather data will allow operators to visualize how weather could impact sales. A mere five degree swing can completely change a bar mix,” she says.
Asking the Right Questions
Data only goes so far. It’s imperative to ask the right questions. “Collecting data is the easy part. It is knowing what questions to ask and leveraging data to derive the best answer that is the key,” stresses Alan Hayman, Founder and President of Hayman Consulting Group. “Data analytics is an art and a science. Today, there is plenty of science leveraging robust solutions for collecting and analyzing data. What is often missing is the art of asking the right questions."
Whether it's to nix a menu item or to add an extra server on Saturday nights, it is imperative for restaurants to leverage their data to make informed decisions, not decisions based on gut feelings.