Episode Summary

Modern-day operations revolve around data, and restaurants that want to win stomach share must become more data-driven. But that’s easier said than done, especially since restaurants haven’t had to organize and synthesize massive amounts of data like today. 

Enter Darien Bates and Fourtop Solutions! Darien founded Fourtop after being CTO at &Pizza and working with several data companies. We discuss how restaurants view and use technology, and focus on the importance of data centralization, architecture, APIs, and how an employee-first strategy is key to long-term success. 

Darien shares all his brilliant technical insights including his belief that the future of the hospitality industry lies not in replacing humans with technology but in balancing the two – using humans for discovery and technology for automation to support that discovery.

Guest-At-A-Glance

🍽 Name: Darien Bates, Co-Founder at Fourtop Solutions

🍽️ Where to find Darien: LinkedIn

Key Insights

🌶️ Data centralization is vital to bringing data to life and activating it.

Darien says that restaurants must establish systems where all the data will commingle to allow for better decision-making. 

 ”Water is a prevalent metaphor for data, because it functions a lot like water. If you have a glass of water, it seems contained and manageable. But if you think about an ocean of uncontained water, it’s overwhelming. […] You have to pull all that data into one place. And then you have to have a way of applying logic and programming on top of that to turn that ocean into all the different cups and glasses and structures that you need to see that data in. And that’s the programming inside the tool itself. It’s making that water not just available but coherent.”

🌶️ An employee-first strategy sets you up for success.

That’s especially true in this changed business climate with increased labor costs, and restaurants must think long term and ensure an exceptional employee experience to prevent frequent employee turnovers and related expenses. 

”If you start with the employee experience, it is possible to create benefits for every stakeholder, investor, guest, and the community at large. If you don’t start with the employee experience first, they will be part of the detritus of what happens within a restaurant.”Darien and Fourtop are working with the team at Hart House to bring their employee-first vision to reality.

Episode Insights

How Restaurants View Technology Today

”Some restaurants are starting to realize that technology isn’t a pre-packaged meal; technology is more like ingredients. 

When buying a technology system, whether a POS, an order aggregator, a survey system, or something like that … There are a set of core capabilities that are useful to be able to apply in a number of different areas.

Traditionally, restaurants have looked at technologies and said, ‘The tool says it does this, and so I can apply it to this use case.’ And sometimes, you end up buying multiple tools that have redundant capabilities. 

Leaders that are looking at restaurant technologies as more a component set of capabilities that they can configure and apply to their specific needs are headed in the right direction.

Ways to Use Data More Effectively

”Let the robots be the robots and the humans be more human.”

Dashboards aren’t the most useful way to understand data. Using humans to do the discovery and activate the data is more important and effective. 

“We start thinking of data as a flow system that can operate autonomously in the parlance of AI as in a broad concept. Next, we need to think about how a human discovers something inside data and then move that discovery into automation in a way that has a better relationship between humans and machines.”

Restaurants Will Start Using AI to Manage Data

Automated decisioning will get more and more dialed in and sophisticated, where the algorithms will be more specific in what the business is trying to activate. And on the other side, we’re going to be moving more toward generative intelligence — as we saw with ChatGPT. 

“Those two places of real-time automation, where you have these decisions that are being made by systems and, at the same time, the ability to ask questions of your data in increasingly sophisticated ways to get to insights at a fraction of the time will help restaurants adjust their business and help humans make course corrections, make smarter decisions, and do it on the advice of expert models. That will be a huge value.”

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