Wendy’s is the latest restaurant chain to jump on the AI bandwagon. The fast food giant recently announced a partnership with IBM Watson, and plans to use the technology to transform its customer experience.
Wendy’s Envisions AI is a new restaurant that uses technology to predict the needs of customers. The restaurant has been opened in Dublin, Ohio and will be expanding to other locations soon.
According to Wendy’s Co.’s director of technology, the business intends to use data analytics and artificial intelligence to speed up drive-through orders and home deliveries, predict repeat customers’ favorite dishes, and even prevent burgers from burning on the grill.
The fast-food restaurant announced a partnership with Google Cloud, a division of Alphabet Inc., on Tuesday to develop sophisticated software capabilities that would use the tech giant’s data and AI to create voice-recognition software, computer vision systems, mapping applications, and other digital tools. The contract’s terms were not made public.
The company’s chief technology officer, Kevin Vasconi, said he wants to deploy a huge bank of consumer data collected during the coronavirus epidemic, when many shops started to extend ordering and pickup services, developing web applications for car-side drop-offs and home deliveries.
Between July and October last year, during the height of the epidemic, Wendy’s witnessed a 15% spike in app downloads in the United States.
Mr. Vasconi stated, “Let’s take all of the amazing innovation that occurred during Covid and figure out the next stages.” He intends to start deploying new digitally improved consumer services in the coming months, if not sooner.
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This includes using Google’s AI to allow voice-recognition software to accept client orders through phone or drive-through window and convert them into text for line cooks and servers. “Accuracy goes substantially up” when data-rich AI systems are in place, according to Mr. Vasconi. He claims that the days of yelling into drive-through menu boards and receiving distorted order confirmations are gone.
Voice recognition may be used in the future to recognize clients from previous orders and customize services, such as predicting favorite foods or drinks, or giving recommendations.
Mr. Vasconi said, “Digital transactions are data-rich.” “It’s about making that consumer data more accessible.”
Mr. Vasconi also wants to use computer vision technology, which consists of video cameras with software trained to identify things and convert them to data that triggers particular instructions, eliminating the need for kitchen and counter personnel to stare at displays incessantly. The technology might be used to create a system that recognizes when queues at the drive-through window are becoming lengthy, signaling line cooks to put another basket of fries into the fryer.
He believes the technology might also be used to notify chefs when it’s time to flip burgers on the grill. “It’s a game changer to be able to apply vision in the shop,” he added.
Wendy’s Chief Information Officer Kevin Vasconi.
Wendy’s Company (photo)
Google Cloud, for its part, acquires a high-profile client in an attempt to up its game in the growing cloud industry. According to Gartner Inc. estimates, Google’s cloud business followed Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in terms of worldwide infrastructure-as-a-service sales, with approximately 6.1 percent of the market, or $3.9 billion in revenue last year. This is up from 5.2 percent in 2019, but still lags behind Microsoft’s Azure, which has 19.7% market share, and Amazon’s AWS, which has 40.8 percent market share.
In the most recent quarter, Google’s cloud revenues increased by 54% to $4.63 billion, the firm announced in July. A emphasis on software, particularly sophisticated cloud-based applications coupled with AI and machine learning, accounts for some of the benefits. Its business intelligence and analytics tool, as well as an edge computing platform for in-store applications and BigQuery, a digital warehouse that serves as a central data repository, are among them.
“Data from restaurants may be dispersed across multiple systems, or data silos, making it virtually difficult to combine data to offer aggregated insights,” said Janet Kennedy, vice president of Google Cloud’s North America regions.
Wendy’s will be able to combine data on sales, restaurants, goods, and customers with third-party data from weather, social media, delivery partners, and other sources using BigQuery, she added.
Restaurant owners may better identify how weather, for example, corresponds with ice cream sales in San Diego or other product and service insights by layering over Google’s own data—on search trends, maps, marketing, and advertising, for example—by layering over Google’s own data.
Mr. Vasconi, who joined Wendy’s in late 2020 after eight years as the head of IT at Domino’s Pizza Inc., said the deeper dive into Google Cloud’s AI and machine-learning capabilities would “unleash a whole ton of creativity.”
He hasn’t ruled out the use of self-driving delivery drones, which he tested with at Domino’s.
“Convenience is one of the foundations of fast service,” he said. “I never say never,” says the author.
Angus Loten can be reached at [email protected]
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Wendy’s Envisions AI is a new way to order food from your phone. It uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to predict what you want before you do. Reference: what time does wendys close.
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