Retail

Outback Steakhouse Pilots Machine Learning Tech

Outback Steakhouse Pilots Machine Learning Tech

At multiple restaurants operated by one of its franchisees, Outback Steakhouse is testing machine learning (ML) technology from Presto. The test is focused on the restaurant lobby, but could grow to the kitchen, curbside pickup and dining room areas, CNBC reported.

Presto Founder and CEO Rajat Suri said the technology assists restaurants in fixing blind spots, noting that “managers can’t be everywhere at all times.” Cameras capture and analyze the actions of waiters, hosts and customers to bolster diner satisfaction. 

The technology can track cleanliness (or lack thereof) of lobbies, extended wait times and the number of diners who leave without being acknowledged or shown to a table. Staff members and managers can get real-time notifications of negative incidents prior to guests leaving angry reviews online.

The information captured by the cameras is deleted automatically after 30 days, and no personally identifiable data is recorded or tracked. Suri said, per the report, “It’s very important to us that the whole ecosystem feels very secure about this tech.” 

In separate news, quick-service restaurants (QSRs) are employing increasingly sophisticated machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to keep up with the growth of mobile order-ahead and delivery. These technologies are harnessed in customer-facing applications as well as back-of-house functions to enable more efficient fulfillment and order processing.

Dunkin’, for instance, is one of the biggest quick-service restaurant (QSR) chains around the globe, with 11,300 locations in 36 countries. One of the tools fueling its omnipresence is its mobile loyalty program, DD Perks, which rewards customers with free coffee or donuts. And behind the scenes of this service is a sophisticated AI network that harnesses data analytics to send diners targeted offers at specific times. 

AI and ML are rapidly making inroads in a variety of sectors, automating or supplementing many jobs that were once done by hand. QSRs are no exception, with AI-powered voice ordering, self-service kiosks, and inventory management becoming more commonplace.

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