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Leveraging Technology in our Restaurants to Serve Up a New Digital Guest Experience

Quick! Name a well-known technology company! Apple. Google. Samsung. Amazon. Microsoft. Facebook. And Chili’s. Wait…what??? Regardless of where life takes you, odds are some element of technology will be along for the ride. The smart phone has become one of the single biggest revolutionary devices to ever enter our lifetime. Technology has changed the way we see the world, the way we connect to one another, and the way we experience our daily lives. And it’s true: the restaurant industry has been (and will continue to be) profoundly impacted by the technology revolution happening right before our eyes. We intend to lead our industry in technology innovation that will reimagine three specific areas: food, atmosphere and service. Technology is the thread that weaves all of them together.

It all started with bringing technology to the table. In 2013, we were the first in the industry to bring tabletop technology to our Guests through our technology partnership with Ziosk.

From there, we launched a fully digital loyalty program that shocked everyone by bringing approximately 5 million new member enrollments in a span of 6 months. At the core of the My Chili’s Rewards program is a service-based technology stack that analyzes data from a central data repository (just envision a big swimming pool with a lot of ones and zeroes on floats), combined with Guest behaviors like frequency and visits to offer personalized offers to our fans through their preferred communication channel – text, email or push. The program also uses “gamification” logic to surprise and delight Guests with free offers within the restaurants. Free molten? #winning

We were also the first to recognize the value of mobile devices both within and outside our restaurants and we are continuously adding native functionality to drive more value-focused Guest experiences. Odds are you might be reading this on your mobile phone. Guess what else you can do with that amazing handheld? You can sign in to our Chili’s App, check and redeem My Chili’s Rewards offers, browse our menu and place a To-Go order to the restaurant of your choice. You can also take advantage of our No Wait feature and sign in through your very cool and sleek handheld mobile technology phone thingy when choosing to dine in on a busy night. All of these features are enabled through real-time integration using web service based architecture.

This Fall, through our partnership with the popular e-commerce engine OLO, we will launch a brand new omni-channel platform that supports essential experiences like advanced search, fully integrated online menus and other innovative functions like pre-ordering and group ordering. It gets even better. You’ll be able to use any of the web, app or tabletop channels to make payments using credit cards, Apple Pay or Samsung Pay.

The transformation journey we are traveling today is powered by a bold decision by our leaders at Chili’s and our mother-ship Brinker International, to focus on technology as a strategic differentiator that will continue to make us Like No Place Else. We are doing this in several ways: by shifting more of our development in-house, building a Digital Hub, and leveraging a services-based architecture that powers a highly scalable omni-channel platform. We are also continuously enhancing our data platform so that we can understand and tailor specific experiences based on our Guests’ needs.

For all of the brands we know as tech giants, the brilliant end result is just a piece of the puzzle. It takes whip smart talent and big thinkers to make the technology work, which is why our roadmap to build a best-in-class Digital Guest Experience started first and foremost with finding the right people to bring that vision to life. And it’s why we are continuing to grow our Information Technology team by seeking out the very best rock stars and giving them a world stage to perform on. As Bill Gates once said, “Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.”