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Yum Brands Doubles Tech Spending, Expands Use of Generative AI

Yum Brands app

Fast food company Yum Brands aims to deploy artificial intelligence (AI) across the operations of its restaurants.

The parent company of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC and The Habit Burger Grill spent $21 million on “digital, technology and innovation capabilities” in 2023, up from $11 million the previous year, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Monday (April 1).

One resource in which the company is investing is its mobile app for restaurant managers called SuperApp, according to the report. Yum Brands is now testing a generative AI feature that answers employees’ questions, so they don’t have to turn to training materials or work through the interface of the app.

The company is also looking to expand the app’s capabilities to help with ordering ingredients, scheduling shifts and training employees via augmented reality (AR), the report said.

In other tests, Yum Brands is experimenting with voice AI to take orders from customers in the drive-thru, image-recognition AI to count the cars waiting in the drive-thru and digital tools for managing kitchen appliances, per the report.

Currently, about 45% of the company’s orders are placed digitally, according to the report.

Behind the scenes, Yum Brands uses AI to recommend orders of supplies based on inventory and sales data, to optimize menu offerings and pricing based on customer data and to deliver personalized offers to customers, the report said.

Yum Brands is making these investments to boost sales and reduce costs at a time when customers increasingly prefer digital ordering and drive-thrus, labor costs are rising and generative AI is being deployed across a variety of industries, per the report.

PYMNTS Intelligence has found that companies across retail industries are looking to AI to boost their performance. Seventy-eight percent of business leaders in this sector rank generative AI as the most impactful emerging technology over the next three to five years, according to “What Generative AI Has in Store for the Retail Industry,” a PYMNTS Intelligence and AI-ID collaboration.

In another deployment of the technology in the quick-service restaurant (QSR) sector, McDonald’s said in December 2023 that it partnered with Google Cloud to leverage generative AI and cloud technology to make operations more efficient and improve the customer experience.