A conversation with DRU Assist's makers


The following is an interview between Tech Research Asia and Domino’s Group Chief Digital Officer Michael Gillespie about DRU Assist, the pizza chain's chatbot

What were the challenges or opportunities being addressed? Why these and why now?

One of the biggest challenges for us is being an early adopter for this technology. AI assistance is only really now starting to become more prevalent in the consumer space. Our challenge is to be able to provide a world class solution that gives flexibility to the customer to engage whether it’s by voice or text – but also ensuring it’s intuitive and easy to use.

Who in the organisation was involved and/or affected by the rollout?

With large projects like this, a range of different departments are involved including digital, marketing, IT, operations and a variety of other departments. This was a significant project that has changed the way customers interact with us so we need to ensure we take everyone on the journey.

How did you evaluate build, buy, rent or partner questions for the technology?

DRU Assist was created in partnership with Nuance. We chose Nuance as our partner in this AI assistance space due to their track record with handling and managing natural language from an AI perspective, in a commercial space.

What skills were required?

When building any new piece of technology, you need great developer skills. In this case, you also need a strong partner who knows that area well. On top of this, we cannot underestimate the knowledge of how a customer wants to interact with Domino’s and order a pizza. Knowing how the customer will interact with us sets the base for how DRU Assist will engage with customers.

Any legal or regulatory issues?

As with any project, there is always a legal side. The legal and regulatory issues relating to DRU Assist are minor compared to the extent of our other projects, including our world first DRU Drone by Flirtey deliveries in New Zealand that we are currently doing.

What were the processes and practices that needed to change/ be established to make it happen?

DRU Assist is integrated into our existing online ordering platform. We had to go through a process of enabling our existing online ordering platform to work with an AI solution. Not only work with but set the platform up to be able to adapt, grow and learn about how customers interact with it.

What were the business outcomes? Can we quantify this in any way?

Domino’s was the first QSR in Australia to take the first steps into the Artificial Intelligence Assistant space. Unfortunately, we don’t share a lot of numbers externally so I cannot tell you any usage numbers. We have our objectives and also a strong AI roadmap going forward which is where we want to take DRU Assist and other AI systems.

What were the tech outcomes? Can we quantify this?

The outcomes for tech are endless. If a voice activated virtual assistant can place your pizza order in the Domino’s App, imagine what else DRU Assist could do!

Future steps?

We want to continue to make DRU Assist more flexible and more intelligent but then also tailor DRU Assist to work with more third party AI systems as they enter our markets where DRU Assist is active. We also want to continue the development of other DRU and AI solutions across our business.