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6 tech terms restaurateurs will soon be using

To a non-techie, conversations overheard on the floor of a restaurant tech convention can sound like a foreign language. But as the walls separating the IT, marketing and operations departments come down, it’s important for employees of all minds to keep up with the latest lingo on the tips of techies’ tongues. Here’s a glossary of some of the key phrases that caught our ear at last week’s FSTEC conference, the industry’s leading gathering of restaurant tech executives.

1. Microcustomized experiences

Industry tech experts almost unanimously talked about personalization steering restaurant’s current technology efforts. The goal, said futurist and trendcaster Shawn DuBravac, are “microcustomized experiences,” the result of using data to tailor a unique experience for each individual customer.

2. Sensorized

Cava Grill and other restaurants are using sensors to monitor everything from wait times to the path of delivery trucks to decibel levels at the counter to seating configurations. “Sensorized” is the shorthand at least one restaurant techie used to refer to something being measured by sensors.


In outlining how Cava turns data into action, Josh Patchus, the restaurant chain’s chief data scientist, referenced the DADA loop—a model actually used to explain how to think like a spy. DADA stands for data, analysis, decide, action.

In practice, said Patchus, this order of events is seldom this linear. There’s back and forth between the steps, and along the way, actions are weighed against the behaviors, demands and reactions of the consumer—the central focus of any data-gathering effort.

Cautioning against gathering data for data’s sake, said Patchus, “If you’re going to collect data, make sure its primary beneficiary is the consumer.”

4. Hactivist

One way to help make cyberthreats seem less insurmountable is to understand the forces behind them. According to PayPal CEO Dan Schulman, a general session speaker at the FSTEC conference, the vast majority of hacking attacks on businesses aren’t from bandits out to rob consumers of their money and information. Most (80%, by his count) are by “hactivists,” usually amateurs, who are launching a cyberattack to bring attention to some cause. Thankfully, they’re successful 1-2% of the time.

Cybercriminals that intend to sell customer information on the dark web account for about 18% of attacks, says Schulman, but they’re successful 15% of the time. State-sponsored cyberattacks by foreign governments or military represent the smallest fraction of cyberattacks—just 2% according to Schulman—but they’re 98% successful. “If [your company] is in the sights of state-sponsored hackers, you will be hacked. And you may not know you’ve been hacked; they’re very sophisticated and hard to spot.”

5. Contextual commerce

In validating the thinking that retail must move online in order to survive, Schulman tossed out the term “contextual commerce,” the idea that businesses are going to have to take their inventory and extend it to where customers are. In the restaurant world, it’s an idea easily supported by the rise in off-premise foodservice.

“The idea of a location as a showroom is antiquated,” Schulman said. “Commerce is not online or [offline]. Commerce is just commerce.”

6. Dogfooding

While a term like “dogfooding” might suggest a certain connotation to restaurant people, its meaning is actually about testing new ideas. “We have to eat the dog food,” explained Kelly Seeman, global sales industry manager for Facebook, during a session on lessons from her career in tech.

“[At Facebook,] we test all of our products to see how they are used and to understand what people like or don’t like about our newest features,” said Seeman, who also has worked at Google and Postmates. “[Only when] you test and play, do you really have something built for the future,” she said—a point that could apply to a rollout in any industry.

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