27 DICKEY’S BARBECUE PIT How Big Data Is Used To Gain Performance Insights Into One Of America’s Most Successful Restaurant Chains


Barbecue and Big Data may not seem like the most natural flavour combination but one US restaurant chain, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, are bringing them together with great success. The firm, which operate 514 restaurants across the US, have developed a proprietary Big Data system called Smoke Stack.

What Problem Is Big Data Helping To Solve?

The idea behind Smoke Stack was to get better business insights and increase sales. The intention was to guide or improve all aspects of Dickey’s business, including operations, marketing, training, branding and menu development.

Dickey’s were already capturing data from various sources, and the aim was to bring that data together in order to maintain a competitive advantage. CIO Laura Rea Dickey – who is the granddaughter-in-law of Travis Dickey, who founded the chain in Texas in 1941 – explains: “Its biggest end user benefit is bringing together all of our different datasets from all of our source data – whether it’s our POS [point-of-sale] system in stores directly capturing sales as they happen, or a completely different source such as a customer response programme, where folks are giving us feedback online or in different survey formats.” Another problem that Smoke Stack was designed to solve included “information rot”, that is too much data without the ability to analyse it in a meaningful, actionable ...

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