Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

English: pizza) Polski: pizza

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know what you’re thinking. Why does the Foodie Friday post have a song lyric as a title? Well, that’s the song that popped into my head as I read a piece about Zume Pizza, a food delivery startup.  The Ad Age article begins with this:

In the back kitchen of Mountain View’s newest pizzeria, Marta works tirelessly, spreading marinara sauce on uncooked pies. She doesn’t complain, takes no breaks, and has never needed a sick day. She works for free. Marta is one of two robots working at Zume Pizza, a secretive food delivery startup trying to make a more profitable pizza through machines. It’s also created special delivery trucks that will finish cooking pizzas during the journey to hungry customers…

Ouch.  Putting aside yet another human or three being replaced by a machine, I have other issues with this which are captured nicely in the Styx song:

The problem’s plain to see, too much technology
Machines to save our lives. Machines dehumanize.

Business needs to be about people.  When I eat, I want to taste the cook’s soul. I like the imperfections and that my pizza is different from how it will be the next time I order it. I enjoy personal service and the quirks of every individual with whom I deal no matter what the business. We need to be responsive to each customer in a human way. It’s why customer service agents reading from a script are just as bad as automated menu trees in my book. Who doesn’t prefer speaking with an unscripted human?

Do I think the hungry stoner calling for a pizza at midnight cares? Nope, and I suspect this startup will do well. I guess this is just the cranky old guy in me bemoaning yet another little bit of dehumanization in business. It’s right up there with programmatic media buying and selling and push-button espresso makers. Let’s stay human, people. Less efficient? You bet, but gloriously personable. You in?

1 Comment

Filed under food, Huh?, Reality checks

One response to “Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

  1. Nothing to really fear here….The pizza is awful! I’ve had it twice, for free, and have barely eaten a whole slice. Flavorless white bread dough, greasy pepperoni, and one pizza took well over an hour to travel 1.1 miles!
    I can’t wait for a company that gets all this right, but they aren’t it!

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