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Posted by Alexander Nicholas Kozlov
The notoriously competitive restaurant industry is undergoing transformational change. Digital technology and intelligent automation offer the potential to redefine customer engagement and the dining experience. Increasingly sophisticated restaurant POS systems enable the integration of customer and back office data in real time, creating new opportunities to leverage analytics to gain insight and deliver uniquely personalized services to diners.
But that’s only part of the story. Technology is also transforming operations – from the supply chain to IT to facilities management. Here are three restaurant trends to watch:
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and supplies: Management of perishable supplies is a critical challenge for restaurants – restaurants generate more than than 11 million tons of food waste a year. In many cases, the ability to minimize waste and spoilage is what separates profitable operations from failed ones.
AI applications that apply pattern recognition capabilities can analyze massive volumes of data to detect patterns and correlations that yield insights into cause/effect relationships between multiple factors. A sports bar, for example, can analyze variables such as the time of year, teams playing and weather to estimate the optimal amount of avocadoes to buy for a weekend of football.
Leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT): The IoT’s “networks of networks” of intelligent devices that continually collect, analyze and share data has tremendous potential for the restaurant industry. Smart sensors in refrigerators can further enhance supply management by tracking perishables and monitoring volume and usage. Fryers can be programmed to maintain oil at optimal temperatures and send precisely timed alerts when food is cooked, when oil needs to be replaced and when equipment requires servicing.
New approaches to energy management: More specifically, the IoT is enhancing energy management capabilities. That’s huge for restaurants – an industry that spends 3 to 5 percent of operating costs on energy. In addition to monitoring restaurant equipment, smart sensors can regulate temperatures with precision to ensure safe working conditions and comfortable dining areas.
A focus on energy costs, moreover, can yield specific objectives and quantifiable results, and provide a good starting point for a restaurant chain seeking to develop a broader IoT strategy.