customer stories

Jeff Miller from Roti Modern Mediterranean: Cooking big data with love for Mediterranean cuisine

Roti is a Chicago-based chain of fast casual restaurants specializing in the Mediterranean cuisine and is head and shoulders above traditionally led restaurant concepts in terms of technology and data.

April 17, 2019

Don‘t let the “fast casual” label fool you. Roti‘s purpose is to serve Food that Loves You Back. They encourage you to completely personalize your meal from a choice of fresh, wholesome ingredients and serve it just the way you like it. What‘s more, to stay ahead of the competition, Roti became a data oriented company, data driven if you want. Having their decisions rooted in data has helped them to thrive in the quickly growing and changing hospitality environment.

Jeff Miller, VP of Technology at Roti Modern Mediterranean

Jeff Miller, VP of Technology at Roti Modern Mediterranean

Roti is the proof that restaurants can use insight and technology to make their customers happier. With the help of Keboola, they are able to ask questions, analyze customer preferences, and get a competitive advantage against other restaurant chains. To find out why they chose Keboola and how they use its tools, we turned to Jeff Miller, VP of Technology at Roti.

Jeff has a long history of combining his passion for technology and innovation at the intersection of customer experience and business. Before Roti, he was Director of Technology Innovation & Seed Stores at McDonald’s. He takes relevant technology innovations and applies them in the food industry. For him, it is the new normal.

Jeff, can you please tell us what were the first challenges you had to deal with when you stepped into ROTI?

With the old system, we were not able to identify the insights that were necessary to drive better action. We needed to improve communication across all levels and listen to the signals that could, with focused investment, create the biggest change for us and identify the measures that were most impactful for us.

And that was possible only with today’s technology?

Absolutely. Technology nowadays is really around the insights in the culture and the innovation that you can bring from a differentiation perspective, free from a brand. It’s definitely nothing like twenty years ago when you had only desktop support, broken networks, all the bits and bytes, etc. We are at a different level today.

What was the original business objective of your cooperation with Keboola?

At the very beginning, we needed to capture customers‘ feedback and put it all into a single spot. Only this way can we understand how the feedback is influenced by location, people, and experience. Thanks to Keboola, we’ve got business insights. We enabled people to take that feedback from a corporate level and act upon it at the restaurant level.

Nowadays you use Keboola as a data hub for all your data. Why did you decide to do so? Can you describe what data management looked like at Roti before you started using Keboola?

To compete these days, we don‘t want to just analyze and react. We need to anticipate and act. Keboola as a data hub has accelerated us closer to our future vision. I’ve got data that is stuck in artificial silos, and I need to create insights that my business partners are asking for at the senior leader level. We needed to go from nothing to something really quickly. Our previous data management sounds like from a different world today – Excel and email.

You combine Keboola with Looker. What are the major benefits of using the Keboola/Looker stack?

Keboola’s Business Data Model (BDM) is a critical differentiator in the space. It allows us to map out the flow of our business data to easily answer current and future business questions (agnostic to the source of the data required to generate insights and action). As for Looker, it‘s really the usability. It‘s the flexibility and scalability, and the power that it puts in the hands of my team and our power users on the business side. Technology is becoming the language of the business.

What were the main pain points which made you think about changing the previous way of working with data?

First of all, it took forever to get answers to critical business questions. And you can‘t survive very long with that in this fast growing field. Second, Excel was our primary data platform. And third, we really suffered from the lack of transparency to provide insights. Let’s say it plainly: I don’t care about data. What I care about is the whole journey from data to insights and taking actions on those insights. I want to make it accessible to all people in the organization across all departments, at all times, and from different points of view.

Who are the users and who are the consumers of Keboola at Roti?

Leadership, above and in the restaurants. People that need to know the answers for questions that are being asked and queried at the board level. They don’t care about the servers that data is stored in. They want to be able to ask a question and get an answer that is insight driven.

What are your future plans when it comes to BI/data management?

The plan is to build up our last year’s model “From Data to Insights”. This and the next year, we want to start to use the “From Insights to Action“ model.

What do you think will be the next evolutionary step for a data-driven organization?

Machine learning and AI. The insights are kind of becoming the machine-driven part. A machine is getting smarter and smarter by listening and learning about how your restaurant is performing. It will eventually get smart enough to recognize that a restaurant in an urban area has different performance than a restaurant in a suburban area. And that’s the power that I see – the machine is always listening, learning and evolving.

More customer stories Articles