Technology is becoming a key differentiator for restaurants. Source: Shutterstock

Technology is becoming a key differentiator for restaurants. Source: Shutterstock

McDonald’s gets future ready with $300m tech investment

DATA can help businesses do exciting things. It’s the fundamental unit of tomorrow’s technologies, be it big data analysis, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), or anything else.

In the world of restaurants, data can help owners understand and build interesting solutions that not only provide a better experience to customers but also create smarter and more intelligent ways to engage with them.

Although many have talked about this for a while now, it seems as though McDonald’s is preparing to put its best foot forward — with help from New York-based Dynamic Yield, a tech business it has recently acquired for US$300 million.

McDonald’s will utilize this decision technology to provide an even more personalized customer experience by varying outdoor digital Drive Thru menu displays to show food based on time of day, weather, current restaurant traffic, and trending menu items.

The decision technology can also instantly suggest and display additional items to a customer’s order based on their current selections.

McDonald’s hopes that this investment will enable it to be one of the first companies to successfully integrate decision technology into the customer point of sale at a brick and mortar location.

“McDonald’s tested this technology in several U.S. restaurants in 2018. Upon closing of the acquisition, McDonald’s will begin to roll this technology out in the Drive Thru at restaurants in the United States in 2019 and then expand the use to other top international markets,” the company told the press.

McDonald’s also plans to integrate the technology into all of its digital customer experience touchpoints, such as self-order kiosks and McDonald’s Global Mobile App.

Who is Dynamic Yield and what do they do?

Dynamic Yield is an AI-powered omnichannel personalization platform. The company has worked with e-commerce giant Sephora in the past — with Regional eCommerce Director (SEA & AU/NZ)  Lorenzo Peracchione testifying “Dynamic Yield helped us generate significant uplifts in terms of sales and conversions.”

“With Dynamic Yield, Sephora customers can seamlessly find the right products for their beauty needs. Personalization is at the core of our eCommerce strategy and partnering with Dynamic Yield allows us to craft truly customized shopping experiences across all touch points,” explained Sephora MD Alexis Horowtiz-Burdick.

Besides Sephora, Dynamic Yield has worked with India’s leading online and offline electronics store Croma and Singapore-based real estate marketplace EdgeProp. Both customers provide glowing reviews of how Dynamic Yield helps use data to customize their offerings and better support customers and their desired experiences.

“We chose Dynamic Yield because of the ability to use one platform across multiple touchpoints with the kind of flexibility which I have not seen other products to really bring to the table.

“Way that Dynamic Yield comes into it is twofold. One is the basic e-commerce personalization about just being sensitive to what the customer came looking for, and the second is to use location data, give the right store base communication,” explained Croma Big Data Senior Manager Ishita Sharma.

How can Dynamic Yield help McDonald’s?

“Technology is a critical element of our Velocity Growth Plan, enhancing the experience for our customers by providing greater convenience on their terms.

“With this acquisition, we’re expanding both our ability to increase the role technology and data will play in our future and the speed with which we’ll be able to implement our vision of creating more personalized experiences for our customers,” said Steve Easterbrook, President, and Chief Executive Officer, McDonald’s Corporation.

Essentially, this could be the push towards hyper-personalization that the restaurant industry has been waiting for.

Over the past few years, restaurant owners and technology experts in the food & beverage space have been talking about the need to use data to create more personalized offerings — from displays to menu options. This McDonald’s announcment could help evaluate the first step towards that vision.

“When Omri Mendellevich, our CTO, and I started Dynamic Yield seven years ago, the premise of what we were building was based on customer-centric organizations making individualized experiences and personalization a strategic priority.

“Our acquisition by McDonald’s, one of the most iconic and beloved brands of our time, is truly an endorsement of that vision as they have chosen Dynamic Yield to help power personalization across their 37,000 restaurants in 120+ markets around the world,” said Dynamic Yield CEO Liad Agmon.

Upon closing, McDonald’s will become the sole owner and will continue to invest in Dynamic Yield’s core personalization product and world-class teams.

Dynamic Yield will remain a stand-alone company and employees will continue to operate out of offices around the world. Dynamic Yield will also continue to serve their current clients and attract new ones.