Food service, like several other industries, is undergoing a rapid digital transformation. Foodservice companies are ushering the industry into a digital era by altering how businesses handle food, engage consumers through online and digital channels to stay afloat. Companies are stepping up their digital transformation efforts to optimize their process for maximum efficiency and build resiliency into their supply chains, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Manish Dixit, Principal Disruptive Tech Analyst at GlobalData, says: “Foodservice companies have been facing myriad challenges related to demand volatility and changing dynamics from both consumers and suppliers. Companies are leveraging the buy, build, and partnership strategy to benefit from emerging technologies as they adapt their business models in the ever-changing business dynamics. Disruptive technologies and changing business models have become pertinent for companies to chalk out new ways to retain customers.”
The Theme Exposure Map by Sectors available in GlobalData’s Disruptor Intelligence Center compares the speed at which different technologies are adopted across industries globally.
GlobalData reveals augmented reality, big data, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and cloud as the top emerging technologies being implemented in the foodservice industry.
Augmented reality and virtual reality
Rovio Entertainment, the creators of the Angry Birds franchise, partnered with Burger King to provide a web-based augmented reality (WebAR) experience for the Burger King ‘King JR’ kids’ meals. The ease of use of WebAR and the accessibility across thousands of Burger King restaurants presented an excellent opportunity to interact and engage with customers while also improving their user experience.
Big data analytics
McDonald’s is leveraging big data analytics to not only improve service speed in drive-thrus but also to effectively upsell. If there is a long queue, McDonald’s displays simple and less time-consuming items on dynamic digital menu boards. If the workload is not as intense, the company’s digital menu board focuses on more elaborate, menu items.
Internet of Things
Zest Labs, a California-based tech company, developed the ‘Zest Fresh solution’ by leveraging IoT, analytics, and data to eliminate food waste and spoilage, enabling proactive decision-making throughout the supply chain. The Zest Fresh solution comprises IoT sensors placed in pallets of fruits and vegetables after harvest and the sensors measure variables like temperature and humidity, which determine the remaining shelf life.
Kitro, a Swiss AI startup, has developed an AI-enabled system that analyses food waste in real time. Kitro’s smart food bin is made up of a smart scale with a pole that reads what is thrown and how much it costs. Users receive detailed, practical information on their food waste breakdown and how to avoid it. This enables them to make more educated decisions and better use data to reduce food waste and costs.
Papa John’s International, a US-based pizza chain, has collaborated with Google to accelerate its digital transformation and data cloud strategy through the usage of Google Cloud, allowing it to meet the growing demand for online ordering and delivery of its products.
Mr. Dixit concludes: “The foodservice industry is beginning to realize the benefits of emerging technologies across the value chain. For companies operating in the industry investments/partnerships and development of digital technologies can help overcome the critical challenges facing the industry by helping companies optimize operations, reduce costs, and engage directly with consumers. Digital technologies increasingly allow foodservice businesses to develop greater insights throughout their business and has the potential to disrupt the industry by fundamentally altering how it functions”.