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Why ‘Right Now’ is the Best Time to Embrace Artificial Intelligence

Incorporating artificial intelligence into restaurant operations may have seemed like a pipe dream just a few years ago, but several brands are now making it a reality.

Pizza Hut, for example, is already testing self-driving cars and drones for delivery, and the fast casual burger joint, Caliburger, launched a burger-flipping robot for its kitchens. KFC is developing a restaurant that uses AI face recognition technology to infer what a customer may order, and several chains have implemented AI, automated-speech-recognition, mobile ordering to better serve their customers.

Multiple questions arise with these new technologies: are they suitable for all types of restaurant brands? Does the ROI make sense? And, how can brands ensure that these systems succeed?

Experts on this panel will not only discuss those concerns but will also give tips on keeping costs down when implementing AI.


Scott Gladstone | VP, Strategy & Development | Applebee’s

Scott Gladstone is Vice President of Strategy and Development at Applebee’s. In this role, he is responsible for strategic growth initiatives across the brand, strengthening the franchisee portfolio, and leading the growth of off-premise channels including To Go, Delivery and Catering. Prior to joining Applebee’s in 2016, Scott was a Project Leader at The Boston Consulting Group, leading strategy and operations projects across a variety of industries and topics. His experience included efforts focused on brand transformation, marketing optimization, growth strategy and consumer insights. Scott received his undergraduate degree from Emory University and his M.B.A. from UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Paula Suarez | VP, Technical Analytics & Implementation | Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants

Paula Suarez is Vice President of Technical Analytics and Implementation at Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurant, Inc. Paula leads the companywide implementation of technology projects and oversees in-house software development efforts. Her focus is on streamlining business processes using advanced technology options. Prior to joining Dickey’s Barbecue in 2011, Paula served as Division Business Systems Analyst for RealPage, a software development company for major property management companies. Paula’s experience also includes over a decade working within the area of business systems analysis, software development and technical training. Past career achievements include the development and launching of the first military housing technical training program for Lincoln Military Housing.

Nicole West | VP, Digital Strategy & Product Management | Chipotle Mexican Grill

Nicole West started with Chipotle in 2006, as Local Store Marketing Consultant in our Rocky Mountain Region. She worked closely with Marketing leadership to build and elevate the Field Marketing program and team before being tapped, in 2013, to spearhead the new eCommerce business unit. In her roles as eCommerce Manager and Director of Digital Commerce, Nicole has worked to create a product-based approach to experience design, and with partners in IT, Marketing and Operations, has transformed the digital experiences people have with Chipotle. As VP of Digital Strategy and Product Management, she will continue to work with partners across the organization to create exceptional digital experiences.


Steve Bigari | Founder & CEO | SYNQ3

Steve Bigari, founder and CEO of SYNQ3 Restaurant Solutions, is a leader in disruptive, restaurant innovations. He holds three significant industry patents, a top-five-percent ranking for restaurant consultants in the Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG), and features in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fast Casual, and Rolling Stone.

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