Thursday, August 05, 2010

Making Food Faster by Adopting High Tech Tools

In "Making Fast Food Even Faster" (The New York Times), Fitzgerald examines the technical advances in the Fast Food industry. HyperActive Technologies, which uses artificial intelligence to predict customer flow, landed their first corporate customer, Zaxby's Franchising, a chain of 400 restaurants in Athens, Ga. in January 2007. It took four years to have a restaurant chain by their product. This is just one example that exemplifies the Fast Food industry's minimal adoption of new technologies.

However, restaurant technology companies are becoming more popular as "'it's the last $100 billion industry that still makes all its products by hand,'" according to r. Coulter, co-founder and chief scientist at HyperActive. Other companies are looking for new areas to access in the food service industry, such as "speed of service" and outside call centers to manage orders. New offerings, such as a wireless tabletop hub to improve table turnover provided by ESP Systems, are being assessed by restaurants.

Additionally, increased interest in new technologies does not always translate into implementation of them. The food industry is primarily focused on food quality and restaurant image. Roger C. Matthews Jr., head of the restaurant group at the investment banking unit of the Goldman Sachs Group, sats that this market is risk-averse as no restuarant can afford a computer failure at peak time. Additionally, other low-tech and low-cost alternatives are available, according to Ron Paul, president of Technomic, a food and restaurant industry consultant. More specifically, Neal E. Sessions III, director of information technology at Zaxby's says that "'the restaurant technology environment generally lags other industries by three to five years.'"

One way to build a stronger business is to take technologies you know and apply them to new industries.

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