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The restaurant industry is turning to technology to enhance the guest experience. Devices like tablets, placed at the table, can make guests’ dining experience more enjoyable, with a ready source of tableside entertainment and dining suggestions.

Guests also have the ability to order and pay their checks when they’re ready, rather than having to flag down their waiters. And for those of you with children, or those of you sitting anywhere near a table with children, you know that when they’re ready to go, it’s time to go now.

Increased convenience, speed, order accuracy and fun are some of the top reasons we, as diners, are interested in technology when eating out, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2015 Restaurant Industry Forecast.

But what if restaurants could take it a step further? To not only offer all these great features, but do it in a way that is personal to each guest?

There’s a reason that popular culture continues to reference the Cheers TV sitcom, (“Norm!”) even though the show has been off the air for more than 20 years. There’s something great about that third-place feeling where everyone knows your name, and your favorite drink and other preferences. It’s that kind of environment and experience that doesn’t just bring people in the door, but brings them back.

And wouldn’t it be great if they could even help you predict how long you have to enjoy your meal, based on past experience, before your kids reach that tired, meltdown stage?

Fast-growing Ziosk, the maker of the world’s first ordering, entertainment, and pay-at-the-table tablet, is set to take the dining experience further, giving its devices real-time “smarts” with the goal of creating personalized experiences that result in happier guests and more business for restaurants.

A recipe for success

Ziosk says the challenge is to understand what drives guest behavior and use that insight to give guests more of what they want, when they want it, according to Kevin Mowry, chief software architect at Ziosk.

So how can restaurants predict guests’ preferences and serve them up as part of a better dining experience?

Enter predictive analytics.

Ziosk is ready to serve up a solution, using Microsoft big data and cloud technologies, that delivers a real-time process, and analytics that are forward-looking, to optimize the dining experience and transactions as they are happening. Key to this is capturing the user-experience data from the tablets, not only what actions guests take, but when and in what order.

With predictive analytics, each guest gets a customized experience tailored to their specific needs, which drives guest satisfaction, frequency, and advocacy. What’s more, delivering actionable intelligence in real time to in-store managers is something that could significantly improve the operations of most restaurants. All around it’s a win for both the guest and restaurant.

To learn more about the predictive analytics solution and how it will help fulfill Ziosk’s mission to revolutionize the experience and economics of dining, read the full case study here.

LinkedIn: Greg Jones
Twitter: @gjonesMSFT