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How Artificial Intelligence Effects The Restaurant Industry

Duncan Wallace

Restaurants are seeing huge benefits from using technology to streamline their business. Not only does technology provide more opportunity for marketing, reaching more customers, and improved brand recognition; it also enables restaurants to take orders, make and deliver food electronically. The adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) will impact how restaurants employ and utilize their staff; which will in turn cut labour costs for restaurant owner. However, this may not be a good thing for employees. This blog will provide overview on the benefits and risks of artificial intelligence in the restaurant industry, and how restaurants can adapt to AI to stay competitive.

Artificial intelligence is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform human like tasks. The term was coined in 1956 and has evolved to provide many specific benefits in every industry, especially the restaurant industry. There are many reasons why artificial intelligence is so important. It automates repetitive learning and discovery through data, adds intelligence to existing products, adapts through progressive learning algorithms to let the data do the programming, analyses more and deeper data, achieves incredible accuracy, and gets the most out of data.

Restaurant owners are always looking for ways to reduce their costs, especially labour costs. High staff turnover is extremely common in the restaurant industry, which increases labour costs due to increased training. Increased AI within a business can reduce a lot of these costs. Implementing these technologies may seem costly upfront but long term, will save the business a lot of money. However, there are both benefits and risks in using AI in restaurants.

Some applications that are used in the food service industry are apps and chatbots, robots, kiosks, and recommendation engines. Restaurants use virtual assistants such as apps and chatbots to answer customer queries and to deal with customer orders, robots are used to speed up the process of making and delivering food, AI driven kiosks are used in many quick service restaurants for shorter waiting times, recommendation engines help customers choose their meals based on different preferences. These apps play an important role in AI in restaurants by providing the following benefits:

Savings: using AI in restaurants reduces the expense and stress associated with hiring and managing employees. Most of the employee application process and scheduling can be done virtually, allowing managers to have more time to focus on other important aspects of the business. It also helps reduce waste in restaurants. There are many inventory management software programs that are available to allow you to track your inventory and help with waste management to reduce overall food and beverage costs.

Efficiency: automation helps improve efficiency, allowing restaurants to produce the same outcomes using less. Whether it be less employees or less inputs, the use of AI or robots can ensure that meals are made to specification every time.

Fewer mistakes: AI can be used to automate process that eliminate human error. AI can undertake back-office functions and won’t feel the pressure that humans do, especially during peak hours.

Repetition: AI systems can be used to do monotonous or repetitive jobs. They are likely to carry out tasks quicker and more productively than humans and also have the ability to multitask without making mistakes.

Artificial intelligence provides many benefits to all industries, however there are many risks. According to Greg Creed, CEO of Yum Brands, artificial intelligence, robots and automation could replace humans in the food services industry by mid-2020’s. The following are some risks of AI:

Unemployment: Many labour jobs are becoming automated, leaving individuals in many trades unemployed.

Costs: most types of AI are expensive to develop and implement.

Stagnation: AI is unable to adapt to environments because it doesn’t automatically get better with experience, meaning managers constantly must pay for upgrades.

Inefficiency: Although AI can increase efficiency, there are situations where it decreases efficiency. For example, it may not take orders correctly.

It is important that restaurants realize the importance of automation in the industry and make an attempt to stay up to date. Some recommendations for the restaurant industry are:

  • Utilize technology to increase marketing and brand name recognition. There are many useful tools such as Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Adroll, Adwords, etc. that were created to optimize company’s marketing tactics.
  • Invest in an inventory management system application to help track inventory and reduce waste to save your restaurant money. For example, Fytics or Vinocount.
  • Stay competitive and ensure you are using similar AI to other restaurants to ensure you’re providing the best experience for your customers, while increasing productivity and efficiency.

AI systems are very specified, meaning they are focused on a single task and are far from behaving like humans. They are programmed to do a clearly defined task, whereas humans may be trained to do multiple. Artificial intelligence is playing a substantial role in most industries, however there is no sign of eliminating humans quite yet. There are many jobs in all industries that will never be replaced by automation, especially ones that are involved in the development of automation. Restaurants may become more automated as time continues but there will always be a need for human involvement to some extent.

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