As of late, T.G.I. Friday’s — that American stalwart of strip malls and airports — has a surprisingly modern engine behind it: artificial intelligence.
What’s going on: As researchers keep pushing AI forward, increasing types of businesses are experimenting with basic forms of the technology to cut costs, resolve problems efficiently — and achieve a little wow factor.
The big picture: To hear Friday’s tell it, few aspects of its global enterprise haven’t been injected with AI.
- Algorithms help managers order ingredients, deal with food waste, schedule staff members, and identify fraud.
- By analyzing staff tips and the average check of the tables they wait, managers get automated recommendations for who gets what shift.
The company is also experimenting with micro-targeting to lure customers more often, Sherif Mityas, chief experience officer at Friday’s, tells Axios.
- An experimental system can identify frequent customers by their phone. Staff can then greet them by name and lead them to a table where their favorite cocktail is already waiting.
- Combining cellphone location information with data on who has connected to restaurant wi-fi can allow Friday’s to nudge people within a 5-mile radius to come in for dinner.
- The system starts small, and ramps up its micro-targeting if it gets positive feedback. “You’re messing around with guests, so you want to be very careful,” Mityas said.
The bottom line: This is a far cry from futuristic robot restaurants in Beijing and Tokyo, but the algorithms at Friday’s reflect the mundane ways AI will soon pervade business.