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Move over, Sam Malone: Flanagan, the AI mixologist is here to serve up cocktails.
Artificial intelligence-solutions company Hypergiant helped develop a new AI bartender/mixologist program for TGI Friday’s called Flanagan (named for Tom Cruise’s character in the 1988 film Cocktail). Flanagan, which interacts with both TGI Friday’s smartphone app and its loyalty accounts, makes drink recommendations based on a customer’s food choices or preferences. It can also create an off-menu personalized cocktail based on a flavor profile, a customer’s mood or their previous eating and drinking habits.
According to Ben Lamm, the CEO of Hypergiant, Flanagan is particularly noteworthy in that it offers an AI solution for two of TGI Friday’s core business problems: how to get more people inside the restaurant, and how to learn more about them. (Editor’s note: Lamm is on the Adweek advisory board.)
“Those are just macro problems,” Lamm said. “Those are not ‘AI problems,’ those are not digital problems; those are just the core business goals.”
Flanagan leverages voice and chat interactivity, learning algorithms and deep databanks on principles and traditions of bartending to create a new kind of experience for a brand looking to solve those problems. Additionally, it offers a template for further kinds of personalization of food and drink as it learns more about its customers and their preferences.
Lamm, CEO of the chatbot company Conversable, started Hypergiant with the lofty goal of better matching Fortune 500 companies with AI solutions. The company contains R&D and venture capital arms to invest in smaller companies it can then match with its clients case-by-case. The result, Lamm said, is an AI professional services firm, product lab and holding company.
“AI is like the Internet,” Lamm said. “There [are] so many pieces to it. I think a lot of people think it’s one thing, but there’s actually so much to it. So let’s find people that are doing really interesting things in this space and let’s actually invest in them and then help them meet.”
For Lamm, this approach came out of his time at Conversable, whose clients were increasingly looking to increase their investment in AI but often didn’t know where to start.
Neither big system integrators like IBM Watson or smaller startups who’ve carved off some piece of the AI technological stack were consistently able to address the business problems these companies were facing. As Lamm puts it, they were technology-first, not business-first.
Lamm’s fellow cofounders are strategist John Fremont and technologist and revenue officer Will Womble, both previous executives at Accenture. Hypergiant’s initial 50-plus customers and partners include TGI Friday’s, Bosch, GE and Adobe. (Editor’s note: One of Hypergiant’s investors is Beringer Capital, the owner of Adweek.)
The conceit of Hypergiant is that, like the oversized star that shares its name, it can be a light in the darkness for these companies, matching their business needs with the right AI companies, rather than starting from the tech and working backwards.
It’s a stroke of luck that one of Hypergiant’s first big products is an AI bartender. It’s not a terrible metaphor for the company’s approach to its clients: service-oriented, customized solutions to everyday problems. “AI isn’t magic,” said Lamm. “It’s just work.”
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