How is A.I changing the foodservice sector?

EP hosted an interactive session on Tuesday with several senior players to debate how A.I is changing the face of the sector. It has long been noted that Hospitality was running in a 1500m race, it would be lagging near the back, wondering if it should run harder to compete at the front.

Interesting, whilst many accept that many had made progress in the last four years, it was felt that:

  • There is still some way to go and learnings to be found.
  • That much of the thinking evolved more about risk, security, margin protection and the dangers of implementation rather than the benefits in progression.
  • That one of the greatest challenges still lay in the education of operators, at all levels, to feel comfortable with A.I
  • That the discussion was yet to focus on how A.I can benefit service levels and productivity.
  • It was clear that the need for accurate forecasting in footfall and behaviours was an area of focus and challenge.
  • There was a general cynicism moted about dashboards and if many systems do deliver against their promises. The issue seems to be more about how different systems can come together and operate effectively, which seems often not to be the case. If trust is going to be developed, then this barrier needs to be overcome.

This does reflect the findings which have emerged across several forums that EP has hosted over the past few months; that maybe the greatest challenge for many A.I and tech companies lay more in how it is able to communicate and influence its strengths over an audience which is still uncertain on how to progress?

Most accepted that trust lay at the heart of the barriers to progression and the discussion considered how greater trust can be developed between operators, with clients and suppliers.

All recognise that A.I is impacting on our lives and one of the common comments is that people often feel more comfortable, and braver, in their private/home lives than in work. The question does lie in how operators can feel more comfortable in how A.I can be partnered. The reality is that A.I is progressing at some speed, so this question needs to find an answer.

Does the answer lie with better and more effective communication? Or does it lie in the education of operators? Or a mix of both?

Do senior directors engage and understand A.I well enough?

As we often find, there are more questions hanging in the air which do need open discussion and debate. There is no debating the importance of finding the right partners; it is about comfort and trust in partnership.

In contrast, Peter Baech, co-founder of Kanpla, spoke of his own journey in founding the company and its journey in growth and its successful entry into the UK market, and how the product, with its use of A.I, is working to support the Contract Catering industry across Europe.

His view was that companies were more open to discussion and the challenge lay in how to work collaboratively to constantly seek to improve both relationship and service. Interestingly, Peter spoke to the Kanpla Academy which would work with operators to help train and develop their knowledge and skills, along with investment and focus on engaging with operators and chefs to constantly improve the user experience. Maybe this is part of the answer; the need for regular engagement with operators and an education programme to help in developing understanding.

This is a conversation which is not going to go away but will grow and build in volume.

On this note, on the 9th of November, we are delighted to be hosting a half-day conference at Little Ship Club (in the City) to continue this discussion and debate with a number of leading robotics, A.I and Tech providers to outline their thoughts. Come and engage in this important debate.

For further information, please click here to contact Izzy.