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McDonald’s aims to boost its AI capabilities through new partnership with IBM



McDonald's aims to boost its AI capabilities through new partnership with IBM

McDonald’s decision to sell its AI tech labs to IBM is a gamble that reflects the fast food company’s digital future vision, but will also provide a useful solution to some of its staffing problems.

The hamburger giant has seen salary costs rise and finds that labor shortages are forcing outlets to close earlier and impacting the speed of service. Here’s something CEO Chris Kempczinski fears isn’t likely to change in the coming quarters:

It is a very challenging workforce environment in the US. Slightly less in Europe, but still challenging in Europe. In the US we envision wage inflation. Our franchisees are raising wages, they are more than 10% wage inflation year-to-date… We are up more than 15% on wages. That has some useful advantages. Certainly, the higher wages you pay will allow you to remain competitive.

But we also see that it is quite a challenge in the market right now to find the talent you need. And so it puts some pressure on things like opening hours for us to call back, say, late at night from what we would normally do. It also puts some pressure on service speed, where we’ve been a little behind on service speed in recent years and maybe even in the last quarter. That is also a function of not being able to have the restaurants fully staffed.

To handle this situation. McDonald’s plans to sell its AI company McD Tech Labs to IBM, resulting in the development of voice recognition technology for automated orders (AOT) in McDonald’s drive-thru lanes. When the deal closes at the end of this year, the McD Tech Labs team of approximately 100 people will become part of the IBM Cloud & Cognitive Software division.

McD Tech Labs was founded to advance employee and customer innovations after McDonald’s acquired Apprente in 2019. That wasn’t the company’s first time exploring AI – in 2015, the company tested digital menu boards in some locations that could make recommendations for food and drink choices based on the weather conditions at the time. The company also acquired Israeli AI company Dynamic Yield.

But with McDonald’s strategic growth plan, “Accelerating the Arches,” which committed the company to “innovation in digitization, delivery and drive-thru,” founding McD Tech Labs was a much bigger investment. Since then, the company has rolled out more and more trials of AI technology on the ground with some success. The new deal with IBM aims to build on that and take things to the next level.

Kempczinski explained:

These tests have demonstrated significant benefits for customers and the crew’s experience. To facilitate the development and scaling of this program, McDonald’s has now entered into a strategic relationship with IBM. In my opinion, IBM is the ideal partner for McDonald’s, given their expertise in building AI-powered customer service solutions and speech recognition.

What’s on the menu?

According to the joint announcement of the two firms:

This agreement will accelerate McDonald’s efforts to provide an even more convenient and unique customer and crew experience. McDonald’s development and testing of AOT technology in restaurants has delivered significant benefits to customers and the restaurant staff experience.

Going forward, IBM’s expertise in building customer service solutions with AI and natural language processing will help AOT technology scale across markets and address integrations, including additional languages, dialects, and menu variations.

The acquisition of McD Tech Labs complements IBM’s existing work to develop and deliver AI-driven customer service solutions with IBM Watson. Companies in a variety of industries, from financial services and healthcare to telecommunications and retail, use Watson to drive business results.

Building on the plans, Kempczinski added that efforts need to be stepped up and this means thinking about what is best done alone and what should be outsourced to a partner:

There are certain times when it may make sense for us to acquire a technology so that we can accelerate its development and ensure that it is tailored to the needs of McDonald’s. But at some point, that technology gets to a development level where I think it makes more sense to take it to a partner, who can then blow it out and scale it globally.

What we’ve done with Apprente fits in very well with that philosophy, which is that we’ve had it for a few years now. I am very happy with how the team has progressed in its development. We’re seeing some very encouraging results in the restaurants that we have. But there is still a lot of work to be done to introduce other languages, to be able to do this in 14,000 restaurants with all the different menu changes, etc. And that work is beyond the scope of our core competencies, if you will.

More such partnerships could be on the horizon, he added:

In the future it will be very much on a case by case basis whether we go with the partner from day one or where we can bring something in-house for a period of time. But the great thing about being McDonald’s is that we are the first point of contact for everyone when it comes to partnering in the restaurant industry. And so we have a really good view of the different partners out there. Sure, I think our general view is that we’re best on a sustainable basis to let others collaborate externally. But again, from time to time there may be benefit for us to be able to speed up and learn to use it for a period of time.

Triple D

Elsewhere, the three-pronged strategy Digital, Delivery, and Drive Thru is moving fast. About 20% of sales in McDonald’s six major markets come through digital channels, whether it’s apps, in-store kiosks or digital delivery. Kempczinski also points to the rollout of the company’s MyMcDonald’s Rewards loyalty program as a digital success story:

Our loyalty program is an instant fan favorite and delivers great value to our most loyal customers. It also creates another touchpoint to increase engagement and move our relationship with customers to more responsive, more personalized places. We are already seeing increased customer satisfaction and frequency among digital customers compared to non-digital customers.

He added:

The more we learn about loyalty, the more optimistic we become about loyalty. I think for us in terms of what that means for the business in the long run, the benefits you get with a loyalty program is definitely the ability to increase the frequency. In the markets where we operate, about 80% of the population visits McDonald’s once a year, so it’s not like we have a chance of reaching; it’s about the frequency in this company. We’ve seen in the places where we’ve deployed loyalty, it definitely increases customer frequency. So for us that’s really encouraging.

The program also helps McDonald’s get to know its customers better, he said:

We had previously formulated an ambition whereby we wanted 40% of our customers to be ‘known’ customers. Today, that number is probably only about 5% of customers that we actually know who the customer is, what they bought, what they bought before. You can imagine all kinds of things you can learn about customers and their preferences as you get more and more of your transactions where you know who the customer is. Loyalty is definitely how you get that customer to contact you and share information with you.

my opinion

As diginomica has pointed out on many occasions, McDonald’s clever exploitation of digital transformation has brought it to the forefront of the Quick Service Restaurant sector. This latest move with IBM represents an interesting and potentially lucrative expansion of its capabilities.



Trump Accidentally Releases Statement Destroying His Own ‘Dumb’ Election Lies




Trump Accidentally Releases Statement Destroying His Own 'Dumb' Election Lies

The twice-indicted former President Donald Trump made a brief statement Saturday night that appeared to inadvertently disprove his own long-running (and false) claim that the 2020 election had been stolen from him. “Anyone who doesn’t think there was no mass voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election is either very stupid or very corrupt!” read the statement.

Trump’s (apparently) coincidental double-negative means the opposite of what Trump and countless conservatives have falsely claimed about the 2020 presidential outcome. During the end of his presidency, Trump led a failed, anti-democratic and sometimes deadly GOP crusade based on allegations of electoral fraud, to try to undo Joe Biden’s 2020 victory. Trump and several figures in the Republican Party have continued to push these lies in their efforts to conduct an increasing number of election and voting campaigns across the country.

Trump spokespersons did not respond to messages Saturday seeking clarification as to whether the ex-president and current GOP leader meant the opposite of what he said in his written statement, or whether Trump actually admitted that he was either incredibly stupid or was astonishingly corrupt.


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Amazon deals Get Razer headsets, Logitech keyboards and Roccat mice




Amazon deals Get Razer headsets, Logitech keyboards and Roccat mice

This Week’s Amazon Deals Post Features Incredible Accessories

As the end of the year approaches, the pandemic continues to wreak havoc outside our homes. This means we all play a lot of games while sitting at home. Don’t worry if you’re looking for a new mouse, keyboard, headset or other gaming accessory. As we’ve been saying for the past few months, we know how you feel and have just what you need to fill that void in your gaming setup. In other words, there’s a wealth of cool stuff waiting for you in this week’s Amazon Deals post, including Razer Gaming Headsets, Logitech Gaming Keyboards, and Roccat Gaming Mice. All of these accessories are convenient and affordable, and we’re here to make sure you find exactly what you need. Here are ten great Amazon deals designed to take your gaming experience to the next level.

Logitech G502 HERO Wired Gaming Mouse – $39.99 ($2.51 off)

Logitech G502 HERO Premium Wired Gaming Mouse

Logitech G915 TKL Tenkeyless Wireless Gaming Keyboard – $178.06 ($51.93 off)

Logitech G915 TKL Tenkeyless Wireless Gaming Keyboard

Logitech G502 Lightspeed Wireless Gaming Mouse – $99.99 ($50.00 off)

Logitech G502 Lightspeed Wireless Gaming Mouse

Razer BlackShark V2 X Gaming Headset – $39.99 ($20.00 off)

Razer Viper Ultimate Wireless Gaming Mouse – $79.99 ($50.00 off)

Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini Keyboard – $149.99 ($30.00 off)

Razer BlackWidow V3 Keyboard

Razer Blade Stealth 13 Ultrabook Gaming Laptop – $1,299.99 ($500.00 off)

Razer Blade Stealth 13 Ultrabook Gaming Laptop

Razer BlackShark V2 Pro Wireless Gaming Headset – $139.99 ($40.00 off)

Razer BlackShark V2 Pro Wireless Gaming Headset

Razer DeathAdder Essential Gaming Mouse – $19.99 ($30.00 off)

Razer DeathAdder Essential Gaming Mouse

ROCCAT Kone AIMO Gaming Mouse – $59.99 ($20.00 off)

roccat kone aimo mouse

Did you pick up some new stuff this weekend? If so, let us know in the comments below, or drop us a line facebook and tweet. After letting us know, be sure to come back tomorrow. By then, we’ll have a new Amazon deals post this weekend featuring some of the best game deals across all platforms. And of course don’t forget to share these deals with your friends and fellow gamers so they can get the most out of their setup too!

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Fortnite Chapter 3’s new map features new locations and weather effects




Fortnite Chapter 3's new map features new locations and weather effects

Fortnite‘s new chapter has begun and it brought with it a whole new map. FortniteThe overhauled island has several new locations, new weather effects and new weapons, but it’s still a big old island Fortnite card, so it should still look familiar.

The new island is closely tied to the season’s Battle Pass, which features Spider-Man prominently. The arrival of Marvel’s web garland has also inspired its own location on the new map. One of the biggest Spider-Man references in Chapter 3 is the huge Daily Bugle office building. There are also other new areas such as Sanctuary, which serves as the base for The Seven – the secret organization behind some of the biggest events in the greater Fortnite story.

Spider-Man also helped inspire one of Fortnite Also the new mechanics of Chapter 3: swing. Starting December 11, players will be able to swing from high places with Spider-Man’s iconic web shooters. Fortnite, but that seems a little less Spider-Man inspired.

FortniteThe new island also received an environmental upgrade from previous maps with its weather effects. The new map features rain showers, lightning, and even tornadoes that can suck you in and throw you out again. Chapter 3 also comes with a host of new weapons, including various assault rifles, shotguns, and sniper rifles.

Of course, as with every new season, Epic has made dozens of other changes. To get an idea of ​​everything new in Fortnite Chapter 3 season 1 you can download the . to look at Epic’s full sample post.

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