How the Internet of Things is changing the restaurant business.
IoT burger- When I think of restaurant technology, I think of stoves and dishwashers and maybe fancy molecular gastronomy gadgets like the stuff that former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myrhvold likes to talk about.
Apparently, however, even this kind of “Modernist Cuisine” is now old school when it comes to restaurant tech. The new, new thing is combining the Internet of Things (IoT) with artificial intelligence (AI) to revolutionize the front-of-the-house systems in order to predict demand, track inventory, and improve order and billing accuracy. Overall, IoT promises to help restaurants leverage IoT and AI to streamline operations, boost employee happiness, and innovate in areas beyond creating delicious new dishes.
Restaurant IoT devices: not internet spatulas
I wanted to know what kinds of IoT devices restaurants are likely to use over the next five years. Narang replied that the most common candidates will come in the area of payments.
“This includes mobile-pay tablets for restaurant staff,” he says, as well as “supporting mobile-pay capabilities on the smartphones and wearables that diners bring into the establishments.”
Surprisingly, this seems to be a fairly major change. You might think that restaurants would already be working hard to make it easy for customers to pay. But according to Toast’s Restaurant Success in 2018 Report, only 38 percent of restaurants have online ordering, just 17 percent offer mobile wallet options, and a paltry 16 percent have a mobile app.
Sure, that’s probably because many restaurants remain mom-and-pop operations with limited resources, but even many larger establishments and chains have been slow to adopt these technologies. Heck, while there’s been a lot of debate lately about the effects of restaurants going cashless, plenty of neighborhood bars and eateries remain cash-only, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for IoT payment solutions.
Still, Narang remains optimistic.
“We can already authenticate our mobile phones using our faces on the latest smartphone devices,” he says. “At Toast, we see a future where we can use our faces to pay on the go via connected devices, creating a new standard for contactless payments for restaurants.“
AI and IoT go together like bacon and eggs
According to Narang, AI delivered via the cloud will be an essential complement to connected IoT devices for restaurants. While this may not be a novel concept in many industries, he says it’s a relatively new concept for the many restaurants still running their businesses on standalone desktop computers, or even with pen and paper.