In restaurants, there is an entirely new consumer-facing software layer of apps and services being deployed as we speak. For example, tablets with sophisticated software for guest ordering and payment, are being placed on every table at major brands like Applebee’s, the largest casual dining concept in the country. Waitlists are being automated by NoWait and NoshList, online ordering being made ubiquitous by OLO and mobile payment is now finding its way into fine-dining restaurants by OpenTable. Big data and sophisticated algorithms can now be leveraged in real time to optimize operational processes like waiter steps of service, improve guest experience and drive superior returns. Restaurants themselves will start to differentiate based on the software-enabled experiences they offer to guests. The new era of what I call “smart dining” has begun. What changed? PCs have been around for over 30 years and the Internet has been around for 20. But the real tipping point was the 2007 mass commercialization of the iPhone, which made the use of rich software applications trivially easy for consumers on mobile devices, through simple touch gestures. Finally we could experience the magic of great software on a plethora of modern consumer interfaces like Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Get the full story at TechCrunch