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### Gen AI Dominates Franchises in 2023

As the restaurant industry embraces generative AI, the tech holds the potential to transform operat…

In 2023, the adoption of relational artificial intelligence began to proliferate within both the back and front ends of the restaurant industry, leading to increased operational efficiency and overall utility.

An illustration of this trend can be seen in the recent partnership between McDonald’s and Google Cloud. Through this strategic collaboration, the fast-food giant aims to leverage advanced technologies and innovative AI concepts to streamline its operations and elevate the customer experience. Particularly, McDonald’s intends to deploy this technology to optimize back-of-house processes and is set to unveil new software for its digital systems starting next year.

Moreover, restaurants and service providers are turning to Generative AI to streamline the often time-consuming process of order-taking, whether through drive-through services or phone orders. For instance, Wendy’s, a prominent QSR brand, initiated trials with Google Cloud in June to explore the feasibility of accepting voice-based orders at its drive-through lanes. In a bid to expedite the development of new AI-driven voice ordering functionalities, SoundHound recently acquired SYNQ3, a voice technology company.

The integration of Voice AI in drive-through services is rapidly evolving, as highlighted by Krishna Gupta, the former CEO of Presto, who emphasized the significance of incorporating OpenAI and large language models into their product workflow to enhance speed, personalization, and introduce novel features that were previously unavailable. Gupta underscored the critical role of these factors in the drive-through experience.

Furthermore, advancements in cafe reservations are also embracing AI systems. Following the launch of an app for ChatGPT to power restaurant recommendations through chatbots in March, Booking Holdings’ OpenTable has integrated conceptual AI capabilities into its platform.

Additionally, AI technologies are reshaping how customers place their orders. Reports indicate that both DoorDash and Uber Delivery have experimented with AI this year to streamline the ordering process and provide personalized suggestions to customers.

Consumer adoption of AI-driven services is on the rise, as evidenced by a survey conducted with over 2,300 U.S. consumers for the September edition of PYMNTS Intelligence’s “Consumer Payments Sentiment Report.” The study revealed that 58% of respondents had interacted with AI-powered features in food delivery services.

Looking ahead, businesses are increasingly turning to Generative AI to enhance their operational performance. A substantial 78% of industry leaders believe that relational AI will emerge as the most impactful technology in the next three to five years, as highlighted in PYMNTS’ recent “Generative AI Tracker®” and “What Generated AI Has in Store for the Financial Industry” reports developed in collaboration with AI-ID.

In the realm of digital-first banking and restaurant innovation, Jessica Bryan, VP of Marketing at NCR, emphasized the growing influence of technology. Bryan noted that advancements in digital and robotics technology are poised to revolutionize the restaurant landscape by empowering staff, simplifying tasks, and fostering deeper customer engagement.

The future holds immense potential for restaurant brands to drive growth by reimagining customer experiences through technological innovations, paving the way for a dynamic and customer-centric industry landscape.

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Last modified: December 28, 2023
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