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McDonald’s big step into Big Data is only the beginning

This article was first written for LinkedIn on April 12 2019. View it in its original format here.

With its acquisition of Dynamic Yield, McDonald’s has made a huge statement of intent as it seeks to shift from its traditional mass marketing approach to one of mass personalization. We are excited by this new development, which clearly shows the future direction of the QSR sector.

The data analysis and machine learning capability of Dynamic Yield’s technology will allow McDonald’s to understand its customers better and be able to present them with a level of service that is more connected to their specific circumstances. In addition to looking at historical sales trends, other data, such as the weather, time of day, traffic reports, local events and so on, can be brought together to offer more relevant promotions than the standard deals usually offered.

While initially focused on the drive-thru, it appears that the fast food giant eventually expects the big data technology to be integrated throughout its business. As the digital experience is sometimes seen by operators as something more relevant to off-site engagement such as delivery and order ahead, we’re pleased to see that McDonald’s is once again showing its commitment to harness the power of the digital experience in its bricks and mortar restaurants.

McDonald’s was the first major restaurant brand to make the shift to digital self-ordering with its global rollout of kiosks, and the quick service restaurant industry has subsequently followed its lead. With the Dynamic Yield acquisition, the Golden Arches has again taken a leadership position and we expect that this will once again act as a catalyst for other QSRs to take action, this time in the area of big data and personalization.

For McDonald’s, the application of this new technology is all about tailoring the experience of the guest, and so much of what we are working to build at QikServe is reflected in this acquisition. Our product roadmap takes us from the convergence of digital channels (kiosk, mobile and web), through to our future goal – a personalization platform that brings together data from things like inventory, environment, demographics and facial recognition in order to deliver a truly tailored experience. We’ve already successfully tested using local weather data to change the upselling options offered to guests using kiosks – a cold drink on a hot day or a warm one on a cold day, for example.

But not every QSR can afford to spend hundreds of millions to acquire a technology firm in order to benefit from big data! McDonald’s has the resources to acquire and adapt a horizontal technology like Dynamic Yield to fit its business, but most others do not. As a company with a platform developed specifically for the hospitality sector, the shift towards personalization of the hospitality presents us with a fantastic opportunity. Big Mac(data) anyone?

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