Machine learning (ML), a subset of artificial intelligence, refers to systems that can learn from experience to solve specific tasks. ML algorithms use statistics and linear algebra to find and apply patterns in massive amounts of data that may be invisible to the naked eye. In recent years, ML algorithms have transformed consumer products ranging from music and video streaming services to search engines to retail e-commerce. By giving consumers personalized recommendations derived from analyzing the data they provide, these companies can optimize their products for each user, in essence providing a bespoke product to every single one of them.
While the restaurant industry has been slower to adopt machine learning technology than other industries like those mentioned above, innovators at the biggest companies in the restaurant space are increasingly seeing that their firms cannot afford to ignore these technologies. Top executives at Domino’s even refer to the company as “an e-commerce company that sells pizza,” emphasizing the company’s tech-driven mindset. Below are some notable examples of restaurants driving productivity with machine learning:
McDonald’s reached an $300 million acquisition agreement with Dynamic Yield, a machine learning startup that works with brands to personalize customer experiences. In particular, McDonald’s acknowledged that it planned to use Dynamic Yield’s decision technology to present customers with intelligent, dynamic Drive Thru menu displays based on factors like trending menu items, weather, and time of day.
Chick-fil-A developed custom technology to track social media mentions in order to identify outbreaks of foodborne illnesses. Using custom software, Chick-fil-A is able to predict the likelihood of an emergent illness by identifying trends in phrases and keywords used in social media posts related to the brand.
Dunkin’ Donuts is working with big data firm Splunk to drive loyalty through targeted promotions. Splunk provides insights into Dunkin’s customers’ habits and preferences, allowing Dunkin’ to target specific customers with offers and promotions relevant to them.
Domino’s recently launched the DOM Pizza Checker in Australia and New Zealand, which uses computer vision to check the quality and consistency of pizza pies before they are delivered to customers.
It’s easy to see, however, that these decisions were made by large multinational companies who were able to put up large upfront investments in order to leverage machine learning solutions. Having identified that not every restaurant can afford to acquire technology startups, contract with consulting firms, and/or build technical solutions in house, some emerging restaurant tech companies are making this technology available to the industry at large.
Read on to the next article to learn about how Bite is using machine learning to revolutionize the in-store ordering experience for restaurant brands both large and small.