Venture Connectors’ August virtual lunch featured digital transformation leader Mike Nettles, who gave a fantastic presentation on how some major players in the quick-service restaurant industry have used artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to drive higher levels of guest engagement and team productivity, which helped them increase sales and meet rising labor costs as a result.

Mike has delivered technology and business solutions for some of the biggest and most respected names in the restaurant industry. He is passionate about the restaurant business, having spent almost 30 years of his career becoming a self-described “gearhead foodie.” He spearheaded efforts at Papa John’s International and Panera Bread that moved the customer experience outside traditional technology into world-class consumer-facing mobile and digital solutions.

Most recently, Mike was served as Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Growth Officer for Papa John’s, helping to successfully lead the organization through a difficult series of competitive challenges. Prior to this role, Mike was Papa John’s first Chief Information and Digital Officer, tasked with making the brand digitally relevant and transforming its aging technology solutions into a sales-driving powerhouse.

Mike came to Papa John’s from Panera, where he worked as Vice President of Architecture and IT, leading technology efforts for many of the industry-defining “Panera 2.0” transformative digital solutions. Prior to that, Mike was the Co-Founder for Savista (formerly eMac Digital), the provider of global store solutions to McDonald’s Corp., as well as provider of complete outsourced accounting and payroll services to more than 5,000 restaurants in the United States. Mike has also led technology strategy and design efforts for other Top 50 hospitality brands including Brinker International, Subway, Wendy’s, Domino’s and Pizza Hut.