Search past winners/finalists

TGI Fridays and A.I. - a perfect combination

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2018, Click to Enter The 2019 American Business Awards

Company: TGI Fridays, Dallas, TX
Company Description: As the original casual dining bar and grill, TGI Fridays offers authentic American food and legendary drinks, served with genuine personal service. Bringing people together to socialize and celebrate the freeing and liberating spirit of "Friday" was the concept's founding premise. TGI Fridays proudly serves guests with over 900 restaurants in over 60 countries.
Nomination Category: Information Technology Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Information Technology Department of the Year

Nomination Title: TGI Fridays and A.I. - a perfect combination

Tell the story about what this nominated department has achieved since January 1 2017 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

As the TGI Fridays I.T. Department is focused on driving innovation through technology and to be recognized as a leader in our sector, we began an effort in early 2017 to explore opportunities to utilize Artificial Intelligence (AI) in a more meaningful fashion across the business. Given our strategic priorities, the technology was aligned to support achievement of our core KPIs, specifically

1) Engage our Guests to drive Revenue and Loyalty,
2) Optimize our Operations to drive Profitability and,
3) Supporting our People to allow them to create great Guest experiences.

We then drove AI efforts across each of these strategic pillars, specifically:

Engage our Guests:
We now utilize AI to manage our interactions with individual Guests. Utilizing machine learning to analyze all our disparate sources of data (POS, Social, Guest relations, Credit card, Foursquare, etc), the AI functionality allows us to create specific and relevant messaging delivered to an individual Guest at the “right” day, time, and platform to drive a customer action – potentially make a reservation or order food/drink through our online platforms. We also utilize AI to suggest additional benefits for our loyalty members to create greater frequency and higher checks during their visits. Our Guest facing efforts utilizing AI to drive personalized engagement have led to a Doubling of our To-Go business in less than 6 months.

Optimize our Operations:
We also use AI to support our Field team and General managers in the operations of their restaurants. We have created AI-enabled tools that provide our managers the ability to understand Guest traffic flow and size of parties to allow for table/seat configurations to adapt daily to maximize usage and reduce wait-times. The AI also learns and suggests scheduling opportunities to align labor cost and reduce overtime. Our managers are also provided with alerts when the potential for fraud occurs inside a restaurant to address the issue quickly and efficiently. Utilizing AI for our restaurant managers and above store leaders has improved throughput by 10%, reduced wait-times by 20% and increased store-level profitability by 5%

Support our People:
This area involves providing relevant and timely information for our team members inside the restaurants, so that our servers, hosts and bartenders can more effectively engage with Guests and provide great experiences – every day, every shift. We utilize AI in this area to be the “angel on their shoulder” during a shift. Utilizing our data analysis tools and the AI engine, we can provide suggested actions on tablet for a bartender based upon the guests around her/his bar on a specific evening. While we have just launched this for bartenders and hosts at this time, we are exploring wearable technology to allow us to extend to all our servers next year. Enabling Team members to better serve our Guests through AI-suggested actions has increased Guest satisfaction scores by 15% and reduced team member turnover by 20+%

This was truly a great example of cross-functional collaboration – from identifying the relevant and highest impact use-cases for our AI efforts, through the execution and adoption of these new capabilities across the system. Our team involved members of across our Technology, Digital, Customer, Marketing and Operations teams given the scale and scope of the AI enabled initiatives included in our strategic priorities for the business.

We created smaller “swat” teams to quickly identify the key goals/metrics for each effort within the overall AI project. Each function provided representation to ensure we not only understood “what” we wanted to ultimately achieve through these efforts, but to create ownership and accountability for the results. These teams focused on each strategic pillar of Guest, Operations and People to lead their efforts from inception through roll-out. Each team also played a large role in identifying and championing the change management requirements within their own respective groups to support the implementation efforts.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) accomplishments of the nominated department since the beginning of 2017 (up to 150 words).

- Utilizing AI technologies to create specific content and delivery/platform timing to ensure personalized engagement with individual guests on a national scale
- Delivering AI-enabled insights to Restaurant managers to optimize their operations on a daily basis to improve labor scheduling reduce wait-times and improve profitability
- Supporting our in-restaurant staff with timely AI enabled actions to increase engagement and effectiveness throughout the Guest experience, making their jobs easier to execute
- Our Guest facing efforts utilizing AI to drive personalized engagement have led to a Doubling of our To-Go business in less than 6 months.
- Utilizing AI for our restaurant managers and above store leaders has improved throughput by 10%, reduced wait-times by 20% and increased store-level profitability by 5%
- Enabling Team members to better serve our Guests through AI-suggested actions has increased Guest satisfaction scores by 15% and reduced team member turnover by 20+%