Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA/Getty

As of late, T.G.I. Friday's — that American stalwart of strip malls and airports — has a surprisingly modern engine behind it: artificial intelligence.

What's going on: As researchers keep pushing AI forward, increasing types of businesses are experimenting with basic forms of the technology to cut costs, resolve problems efficiently — and achieve a little wow factor.

The big picture: To hear Friday's tell it, few aspects of its global enterprise haven’t been injected with AI.

  • Algorithms help managers order ingredients, deal with food waste, schedule staff members, and identify fraud.
  • By analyzing staff tips and the average check of the tables they wait, managers get automated recommendations for who gets what shift.

The company is also experimenting with micro-targeting to lure customers more often, Sherif Mityas, chief experience officer at Friday’s, tells Axios.

  • An experimental system can identify frequent customers by their phone. Staff can then greet them by name and lead them to a table where their favorite cocktail is already waiting.
  • Combining cellphone location information with data on who has connected to restaurant wi-fi can allow Friday's to nudge people within a 5-mile radius to come in for dinner.
  • The system starts small, and ramps up its micro-targeting if it gets positive feedback. "You're messing around with guests, so you want to be very careful," Mityas said.

The bottom line: This is a far cry from futuristic robot restaurants in Beijing and Tokyo, but the algorithms at Friday’s reflect the mundane ways AI will soon pervade business.

Go deeper: More on AI-powered micro-targeting at T.G.I. Friday’s (WSJ)

Go deeper

Trump bump: NYT and WaPo digital subscriptions tripled since 2016

Data: Axios reporting and public filings; Chart: Axios Visuals

The New York Times and The Washington Post have very different strategies for building the subscription news company of the future.

The big picture: Sources tell Axios that the Post is nearing 3 million digital subscribers, a 50% year-over-year growth in subscriptions and more than 3x the number of digital-only subscribers it had in 2016. The New York Times now has more than 6 million digital-only subscribers, nearly 3x its number from 2016.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Biden's emerging climate orbit

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

As of Tuesday morning, we know a lot more about President-elect Joe Biden climate personnel orbit, even as picks for agencies like EPA and DOE are outstanding, so here are a few early conclusions.

Why it matters: They're the highest-level names yet announced who will have a role in what Biden is promising will be a far-reaching climate and energy agenda.

Janet Yellen is back

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Hannelore Foerster/Getty Images

A face familiar to Wall Street is back as a central player that this time will need to steer the country out of a deep economic crisis.

Driving the news: President-elect Joe Biden is preparing to nominate former Fed chair Janet Yellen to be Treasury secretary.