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The fast-food restaurant of the future may be able to detect your order in advance, cook it just the way you like it, and have it ready when you arrive (or bring it to your house). That’s if partnerships like the one between The Wendy’s Company (WEN) and Alphabet Inc.’s (GOOGL, GOOG) Google Cloud deliver on a data-based future aided by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

As reported in The Wall Street Journal, on Oct. 12, 2021, Wendy’s and Google announced a deal that will enable the restaurant chain to “develop advanced software capabilities that will use the tech giant’s data and AI to build voice-recognition software, computer-vision systems, mapping apps and other digital tools.”

Key Takeways

  • Google is partnering with Wendy’s to build a data-based future aided by artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  • The high-profile win for Google Cloud comes in the wake of deals with companies such as Scotiabank and General Mills.
  • While it trails competitors Amazon and Microsoft, Google Cloud remains an attractive option for firms around the world.

While terms of the partnership were not disclosed, it’s clear that Wendy’s Chief Information Officer Kevin Vasconi views it as a potential leap forward. Vasconi told the Journal that Wendy’s plans to leverage vast customer data collected during the COVID-19 pandemic, when new business practices like car-side drop-offs, home deliveries, and online apps proliferated at many outlets. He said that new services could be introduced within the next few months or sooner. 

Google’s AI will help improve ordering by taking customer orders at a restaurant or remotely, then transcribing text instructions for cooks and servers. With AI involved, accuracy improves, according to Wendy’s. The company also said that AI can also help spot customers from their past orders, then personalize orders accordingly. For example, it could help anticipate favorite menu items or suggest complementary ones.

“We believe Google Cloud’s AI/ML and data analytics solutions will enable Wendy’s to innovate ways to create fast, frictionless, and fun interactions that redefine the way customers visit and enjoy our restaurants,” Mr. Vasconi said in a statement.

This deal marks a big win for Google Cloud and its attempts to build market share. Google’s cloud sales rose 54% to $4.63 billion in the latest quarter, the company reported in July.

As reported in the Journal, “by market share of global infrastructure-as-a-service sales, Google’s cloud unit trailed those of Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN), Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (BABA), with roughly 6.1% of the market, or $3.9 billion in revenue last year, according to estimates by Gartner Inc. That is up from 5.2% in 2019 but still far behind Microsoft at 19.7% and Amazon’s reigning 40.8%.”

Google Cloud has had some other big wins recently too. The company announced a deal to help Siemens Energy AG (SMEGF) transform its business infrastructure. A partnership with industrial Internet-of-Things firm Ennoconn Group is aimed at transforming the firm’s manufacturing systems. Google Cloud and General Mills, Inc. (GIS) also said that they’re working together to improve the General Mills customer experience.

A deal announced by Scotiabank is aimed at leveraging the bank’s customer data to improve service and unify organizational data silos. Lastly, ad tech company MadHive committed to doubling its investment in Google Cloud to $100 million. While not an exhaustive list, this flurry of recent activity shows continued growth momentum.  

The Bottom Line

The combination of data analytics, AI, ML, and cloud storage/delivery is clearly changing the way businesses operate. Google Cloud is using those tools to transform companies in a diverse array of industries, including fast-food, banking, manufacturing, advertising, and more. 

While the company still trails market leaders Amazon and Microsoft, its recent partnership with Wendy’s is a high-profile win. As more deals are announced, Google Cloud continues to be an attractive option for firms around the world, which should help its growth rate. 

Disclosure: The author holds long position in GOOGL, GOOG, MSFT, and BABA in personal and managed accounts at the time of writing.

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