Restaurant brands & technology suppliers are gearing up for a fast-paced 2020.

As the industry adapts to the rapid growth of digital ordering, artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies, you can’t afford to miss out on the following trends shaping the world around us, from automated voice-assistance in drive-thrus to more sustainable packaging design. We talked to nine restaurant technology experts from our vast ecosystem of industry insiders and internal thought leaders to comment on the trends that will impact restaurants the most in 2020.

“Demand for the drive thru segment of QSRs will continue to grow, forcing them to add lanes and innovate in the drive thru topography. Drive-thrus are here to stay, and although they may decrease slightly as delivery services pick up demand, the basic functionality will remain much the same for at least the next decade. There will be a number of growing strategic partnerships that will allow some of the smaller players to compete without major acquisitions. The market is rapidly changing, and all players will need to spend resources to stay relevant. But I don’t believe that means that they need to make the same moves that McDonald’s does. However, smaller players will need strategic partnerships to help them stay relevant.”

– Keith Buys, Global Solutions Architect at PAR

McDonald’s is a leader in digital menuboard adoption, with this technology in 60.6% of locations. The nearest competitor has digital menus in only 22% of its restaurants.

People are waiting in drive-thru lines longer than ever before, thus making innovation one of the top priorities for 2020. The average wait time for Burger King, Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, & Taco Bell has increased from 170.225 seconds in 2011 to 270.723 seconds in 2019. This 59% increase is due to several reasons, including more complex menu items and more people choosing drive-thrus over in-store ordering.

Innovations like dual drive-thru lanes require other technological improvements to work, like headsets that have indicator lights for the second lane, and more companies are entering the restaurant industry to fill this gap. McDonald’s bought Dynamic Yield in 2019 to increase the scale of personalization, allowing for suggestions to appear on drive-thru menu boards that speed up the ordering process. According to the CEO of Dynamic Yield, customers not only expect brands to engage with them, they expect these experiences to become more personalized over time.