Practice What You Preach: Tech Trends to Integrate in 2020

2020 starts a new decade. Some say a new beginning. And, according to Hudson Riehle from the National Restaurant Association, 2020 could bring forth a “new business model” for restaurants.

We are excited about 2020 not because new things will start, but because, we believe, this is the year we will see transformative technologies put into practice in our businesses and daily lives. Less disruption, more integration. In other words, tech is getting practical. So are we and have outlined below the first of many technologies we’re integrating into our work this year. Stay tuned throughout the year for more ways we’ll leverage tech, and ways you can too.

Biometric Sensors

In a June 2019 report entitled, “The future of personalization – and how to get ready for it,” McKinsey and Company noted that, among surveyed CMOs, “37 percent say that facial recognition, location recognition and biometric sensors will become more widely used.”

Restaurants are not using these technologies to create a virtual reality experience based on customer data – yet.

In 2019, we embarked on groundbreaking research in partnership with the University of South Florida’s Center for Marketing and Sales Innovation, to identify how customers read and respond to menus in the digital age. Our menu design research leaned heavily on the use of biometric sensors such as eye tracking, electroencephalogram (EEG), facial expression software and galvanic skin response to explore how consumers of different ages and genders reviewed menus.

The resulting data informed our research, which will continue to reveal more insights from focus groups and field research.

But as McKinsey found, we see much more widespread use of these technologies that augment an already-rich stockpile of accumulated customer data. Online experiences have already tapped into what the industry calls “hyper-personalization” based on data.

Listeners expect music services to serve up songs they think you’ll like. We want Netflix to recommend new shows to binge. Restaurants are no different. We’ve seen this granular personalization served up already. For example, when using a navigational app like Waze, beacons dynamically appear along your route, pinpointing the precise location and distance to your favorite coffee shop. And thanks to the data that resides in loyalty programs and POS systems, restaurants are well positioned to even further micro-target diners and entice them back to brick-and-mortar locations.

And speaking of customer data…that’s the next topic in our series about tech trends: AI and Machine Learning. But remember: how ever next-gen and cutting edge our digital tools become, the goal remains the same – knowing your customer.