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Intelligent automation and the Internet of Things are helping restaurants use smart sensors and analytics to be better at managing perishable supplies, optimizing energy usage and maintaining kitchen equipment.
But when it comes to restaurants and technology, customer engagement is the truly hot topic. Digital tools are creating new opportunities to gain insight into what diners want, deliver a personalized experience and build brand awareness.
Here’s a quick look at three key restaurant industry trends.
Redefining the dining experience: Restaurants want to make eating out seamless and efficient, while maintaining the value of personalized interaction with staff. Emerging guest engagement platforms and POS systems are digitizing transactional processes related to ordering and paying for meals. The result is faster table turnaround times – a benefit to both diners and restaurants – and increased productivity of waitstaff. These tools, moreover, enable integration with back office data on customer accounts and loyalty programs, creating new opportunities to leverage customer insights in real time.
IT/Marketing collaboration: As attention focuses on using technology to improve how restaurants engage with customers, the relationship between IT and marketing is becoming increasingly critical. For CIOs, understanding business priorities and ensuring that technology solutions align with those priorities is critical. Marketing executives, meanwhile, need to define their objectives and apply effective metrics to measure outcomes and demonstrate results. For both sides, ongoing communication is essential to bridge the gap that typically exists between the worlds of IT and marketing.
AI and reputation management: Potential applications of Artificial Intelligence in restaurants include chatbots for interacting with customers and smart systems that do prep work in the kitchen. Natural language processing capabilities that derive context and meaning from phrases can also help restaurants proactively manage their online presence. Smart tools can monitor mentions of a restaurant brand on social media and analyze comments and reviews. Such systems can, for example, identify particularly harsh reviews that gain traction and flag them for a response such as an apology or coupons for a free meal.