data-driven restaurant operations

With each passing year, data-driven restaurant operations tools claim a larger share of the spotlight at the National Restaurant Association Show. These tools are becoming increasingly critical to the success of today’s modern restaurants.

They offer important solutions for pressing industry challenges such as labor shortages, customer flow issues, and complex pricing strategies.

We set our sights on learning more about the data-centric solutions covering dynamic pricing, labor optimization and sophisticated back-of-house systems for accounting and inventory management.

AI and data-driven operations solutions received significant attention at the show. These kinds of tools are becoming integral to all aspects of restaurant operations from kitchen efficiency to customer services and business management.

As we explore these technological advancements, the underlying theme is clear: in today’s restaurant industry, technology is ubiquitous, essential, and transformative, reshaping the landscape of dining and hospitality in incredible ways.

Here are several behind the scenes data-driven restaurant operations solutions that we think are interesting.

QSR Automations: Their ConnectSmart® platform was showcased, which includes tools for kitchen automation and recipe management. This software helps streamline kitchen operations, reducing the need for manual labor and improving efficiency.

Bite: Known for their kiosk solutions, Bite emphasized how their technology can help save on labor costs by automating order-taking processes. Bite is focused on self-ordering solutions to help operators manage labor expenses, especially in regions with high minimum wages.

Soundhound AI: They presented their Dynamic Drive-Thru and Employee Assist solutions, which use AI to enhance drive-thru operations and assist employees. Its real-time multimodal interface integrates voice, visuals and touch to deliver a more natural experience. These tools help optimize labor by automating routine tasks and improving operational efficiency.

ITD Food Safety: Their Prep-N-Temp Compact Station integrates labeling, checklists, temperature management, and wireless printing. This solution helps ensure food safety and operational efficiency, reducing the labor required for these tasks.

Fourtop: Fourtop is a data platform that brings all of the restaurant’s data together in one place. What’s interesting about this company is that they also offer consulting to brainstorm tech solutions together. We like their focus on automating the things that people dislike doing, like inventory–counting the chicken in the freezer each night.

Juicer: A data-driven pricing platform that provides restaurants with menu pricing science and competitive intelligence to help them price accurately, fairly, and to use data to drive deals and offers.

Givex: A cloud-based POS loyalty platform that integrates labor scheduling and mobile communication tools to create a better employee experience. It has a clock-in, clock-out feature that allows certain employee roles to clock in earlier because there may be some additional preparation work that is required. It also includes training integrations to help speed up training or improve the level of consistency and quality of the food served.

Paytronix: This CX platform can offer enticing perks for employees including discounted meals during off-hours and gives employees the ability to offer incentives to loyal customers to help drive traffic during slow periods. The platform has features to help employees remain motivated and financially rewarded.

Checkmate: This enterprise restaurant technology helps to drive sales across channels, including web, apps, kiosks, catering and third-party marketplaces. It offers voice AI and loyalty to help create unique ordering experiences by leveraging customer data to drive revenue.

Toast: Toast is a powerful cloud-based software that also provides restaurant-grade hardware to deliver an all-in-one platform for point-of-sale (POS), guest marketing, digital ordering and delivery, as well as payroll and HR.

Zero-in: This digital signage company is helping to create immersive experiences as it integrates, hardware, software, and design with audio and visual for restaurants, retail and other environments. Its solutions include interactive displays, licensed music, guest wifi and connected devices.

Grubbrr: This all-in-one restaurant management platform elevates the guest experience while offering the operator an intelligent back office to efficiently operate and manage a restaurant. Its self-ordering systems and digital kiosk software solutions are designed for restaurants, retail, stadiums, and other entertainment venues.

AI, data centric solutions and automation dominated NRA 2024. All of the solutions above demonstrate the industry’s focus on leveraging technology to address labor challenges, streamline operations, and reduce costs.

The rapid adoption of technology in the restaurant industry signifies a paradigm shift in how dining establishments operate and engage with both employees and customers. While these data-driven restaurant operations solutions promise increased efficiency and reduced labor costs, they also raise questions about the future role of human employees. The nature of restaurant work is evolving, potentially leading to a more skilled workforce focused on enhancing customer experience and creativity in culinary arts.

The Future: What Can Data-Driven Restaurant Operations Deliver?

While the integration of data-driven restaurant operations solutions and AI in restaurants is changing tactical, operational aspects of the industry, it’s also changing strategic decision-making. With the power of data analytics, restaurants have unprecedented insight into customer preferences, inventory management, and pricing strategies. This kind of intelligence allows for more personalized customer interactions and faster responses to market trends.

While operators are always looking for efficiencies, they’re also looking for solutions that help with employee retention and enhancing the culture. Employees are demanding more simplicity and they’re also asking for more purpose in their jobs. We must maintain a balance of technological innovation with human touch, the timeless principle of hospitality. Happier employees create better guest experiences and that will be crucial for growth.