Pizza, Robots, Automation, and the Arts

Today’s blog post is written by Jonathan Kay, Marketing Intern, PatronManager.

A little while back I was watching “The Pizza Show,” one of my favorite shows on Viceland that’s all about… you guessed it, pizza. This particular episode was unique because it focused on the emergence of technology in the pizza industry. I encourage you to watch this clip—I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of it, and it will help tie together some of the points I’ll be making below.

One of the companies highlighted in the episode was Zume Pizza—a startup out of Silicon Valley that is changing the pizza game in a genius way. This is not your local family-run pizza parlor (which I still love and believe should remain a staple in every neighborhood). It is an on-demand food company that has applied modern automation and specially-designed robots to enhance their customers’ experience.

Zume’s business model operates as follows:

  • A customer places an order on Zume’s website or mobile app, which is then immediately received in the Zume kitchen where on-site (human) workers perform the initial steps of shaping the pizza dough.
  • The pizzas are then placed on a conveyor belt and go through the sauce dispensing and spreading robots, who are programmed to add and spread sauce in 3 different requested amounts.
  • Human workers then add the appropriate toppings as the conveyor belt moves to Bruno, the oven robot, who carefully picks up the pies and slides them into the oven.
  • The pizzas are par-baked to hold their shape and brought to a Zume delivery truck equipped with 56 individual ovens that finish cooking the pizzas while they are on route to the customer, ensuring the pies are fresh upon arrival.

You’re probably thinking… this sounds great if I want to order a pizza… but how exactly does this relate to arts and non-profit organizations? Well for starters, I am not suggesting that you replace your artists with robots, or that you start making pizza (though I’m sure that wouldn’t hurt when it comes to patron retention). But I am suggesting that you take a look at the different ways Zume has embraced automation to make their customer’s experience the best it can possibly be.

PatronManager’s founder Gene Carr has been adamant in numerous blog posts about how important it is to stay in tune with modern tech companies, specifically in regards to how they are transitioning the consumer world into a “hyper-convenience economy.” I too agree that adopting new tech practices and forward-thinking will be essential in maintaining and creating additional success inside and outside of our organizations.

Now, like I said, I’m not suggesting you use robot workers in your office or on stage anytime soon, but you can use helpful automation tools to streamline your own internal processes without a team of engineers (particularly with a robust CRM system like PatronManager). For those new to the concept of automation in business, worry not. It is simply a way to program your software to perform repetitive tasks that may be time-consuming and inconvenient to do manually.

In PatronManager, for instance, tools like Workflow and Process Builder can help you create customized rules, formulas, and triggers to help your team work smarter and more efficiently. For example, Workflow rules can be used to set alerts for when an event has a benchmark amount of tickets sold, or notify your development team to follow up with a donor when a gift is received. Process Builder can help increase audience engagement by automatically creating customer records, updating fields, or sharing important updates with staff (i.e., alerting them when a VIP is attending a show). The list goes on…

Obviously, Zume still has humans at the helm driving the business forward, making the important decisions and doing things that programmed robots can’t; so I do not want to undermine the importance of a human touch. I just encourage you to take a page from their book and look at the ways in which your technology can help augment and improve what you’re already doing.

So what can arts organizations learn from pizza and robots? It turns out quite a lot! I hope this post inspires you to find new ways to add a little automation into your day-to-day work life so you can ultimately focus on giving your patrons the best experience possible.

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