Automated service, coming to a restaurant near you. Photo: The Chronicle
As restaurant technology continues to advance, operators are going to have hard decisions to make when it comes to staffing and service. As you read this, there are restaurant technology experts that are continuing to develop new ways to replace work previously done in restaurants by people. Yes, we are talking about automated and technology driven replacements. Think about it.
Although business has always been personality driven, it seems that larger employers are more in favor of fewer personalities. The best examples I can give would be your local supermarket and self checkout. Self checkout is an experiment that will eventually replace all checkout clerks in grocery stores. Food prices continue to rise. Same with banks and ATM’s; the cost of your monthly banking has steadily increased while the banking work force has steadily decreased. Do you see the trend?
How long do you think it will be before restaurants have automated reservations systems that function by voice recognition only? It has already happened in every other industry. How about payment processing? That is happening too. The banks and credit card companies are working on technology right now that will make payment processing nothing more than a digital signature identified by the card in your wallet or purse. You won’t even have to take it out.
Not too long ago our company was approached by some people that invented a digital menu using an iPad as hardware. Graphics were impressive, but the problem with the technology was the guests kept taking the iPads.
This hasn’t deterred others from continuing to develop the technology. Now there are three or four companies developing applications and hardware that will not only show you the menu but allow you to order without talking to a person. This will free up servers and runners to deliver the food and beverage. This translates to fewer staff members and increased profits.
The robotic firms of Japan are making strides every day in robotic development. We are talking about robots that can walk and talk. Over the next 20 years, we will see an enormous leap in the ability of the robotic firms to produce cost efficient robots that will be able to take on jobs that restaurant hourly staff members work now.
Now you say “TJ, that will never happen, that’s just crazy talk.” Where was computer development 40 years ago? Personal and business computers were just starting to be developed for large scale implementation. That’s right, my friends, the robots are coming. It’s only a matter of time.
Author: T.J. Jacobberger