As the restaurant industry continues to evolve and digitize, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in day-to-day operations is becoming inevitable. According to Next Move Strategy Consulting, the market for artificial intelligence, currently valued at $100 billion, is expected to grow twentyfold by 2030 to nearly $2 trillion. AI holds immense potential to revolutionize the restaurant industry, from automating mundane tasks like inventory management to enhancing customer experiences with personalized recommendations. But how can restaurant operators prepare for this impending AI revolution? Here are some essential tips and strategies to consider.
Assessing Tech Infrastructure
A comprehensive assessment of the existing tech infrastructure is the foundation of AI-readiness. Essentially a tech audit, this involves a thorough examination of the restaurant’s technological strengths, weaknesses and potential gaps that might need bridging. Is the existing POS system capable of integrating with cutting-edge technologies? This assessment is a stepping stone to investing in flexible, robust technologies that will streamline operations and bring much-needed automation to various tasks.
Choosing the Right AI Tech
The AI landscape is filled with a plethora of technologies, ranging from chatbots to recommendation engines. The choice of AI technology should be guided by the restaurant’s unique goals and challenges. Factors such as ease of use, cost and compatibility with existing systems should inform decision-making. The end goal is to find a solution that aligns perfectly with the restaurant operator’s key objectives.
Investing in Employee Training and Experience
Change can be daunting, particularly when it pertains to something as pervasive and transformative as AI. To ensure a smooth transition, it is vital to invest in comprehensive training for the staff, arming them with the skills required to operate and maintain new systems. Luckily, AI can be used to create virtual training simulations that can help employees learn new skills and techniques in a safe, controlled environment. This can help reduce the time and cost associated with traditional training methods, while also improving the quality of training. Moreover, this training increases staff morale and helps reduce resistance to change, making the introduction of AI a win-win for all.
Prioritizing Employee Retention
Once staff members are trained, AI can also further enhance the day-to-day employee experience. For example, AI can optimize employee scheduling based on factors such as customer demand and employee availability. This can help ensure that employees are working at the most productive times, and can reduce employee burnout and turnover. As we grapple with ongoing labor shortages, AI has the potential to help retain employees and create a more skilled workforce by automating repetitive tasks and allowing staff to focus on more nuanced, customer-focused roles.
Keeping Up with the Evolving Dining Experience
In addition to changing the employee experience, AI technology stands to create a more personalized, efficient and engaging dining experience for the consumer. It can speed up service, offer personalized recommendations and even provide augmented reality experiences for diners. In the future, for example, we might see diners interacting with voice assistants for inquiries or using their smartphones to see a 3D image of their order before the cooks make it. These advancements are why restaurant operators always need to stay informed—keeping abreast of emerging trends and changes can give restaurant operators a competitive edge, ensuring the restaurant remains at the forefront of innovation.
Collecting and Analyzing Data
The heart of AI lies in data. An efficient data collection and analysis process, focusing on customer preferences, ordering history and sales trends, can provide invaluable insights for restaurant operators. These insights can guide decision-making and improve understanding of customer behavior. AI technologies possess the capability to process vast volumes of data at an astonishing speed, identifying patterns and deriving insights faster than any manual analysis could.
Ensuring Data Privacy and Security
As data collection becomes more integral to restaurant operations, it’s essential to ensure robust data privacy and security measures. Implementing stringent security measures can protect against potential data breaches, ensuring the restaurant remains compliant with data privacy regulations and safeguards customer trust.
Testing, Scaling and Measuring Success
The journey to AI integration should begin with incremental, workable stages. Track and measure the performance of the technology once it’s in place. Analyze how it’s impacting overall operations, from improvements in efficiency to enhancement in customer satisfaction. This data will guide necessary adjustments and optimize the technology as needed. Once the benefits and effectiveness of the technology are clear, restaurant operators can scale it across their operations.
Overall, the AI revolution in the restaurant industry is no longer a question of “if,” but “when.” It’s the job of the restaurant operators to prepare for this change proactively, adapting their businesses to fully harness the potential of AI.
Since joining Givex in 2007, Mo Chaar has helped the company expand its North American footprint. He began his tenure as a Business Development Manager before becoming Vice President of Sales for North America, and then moved to his current role of Chief Commercial Officer. In this role, Chaar oversees commercial strategy and development worldwide as well as managing the sales teams within North America. His experience in gift card, loyalty and POS has played a pivotal role in the success of some of Givex’s largest partners.