McDonald’s: Tech Strategy Unlocks Speed, Growth & Efficiency

McDonald’s cloud journey, which commenced in 2014, has laid the foundation for its digital transformation
McDonald’s aims to leverage scale and unlock greater speed and efficiency for customers, restaurant teams and employee through its technology strategy

For more than 65 years, McDonald’s restaurants have been a familiar sight around the world. What began as a small drive-in restaurant in San Bernardino, California has grown into an American icon that serves 63 million customers every day around the globe, with over 38,000 restaurants worldwide.

What’s more, the company is far from standing still. McDonald’s announced in December 2023 that it was targeting 50,000 restaurants by 2027, ushering in the fastest period of growth in the brand’s history. Meanwhile, the company aims to extend its loyalty programme – already one of the largest in the world – from 150 million to 250 million 90-day active users by 2027.

McDonald's cloud journey laid the foundation for digital transformation

McDonald’s cloud journey, which commenced in 2014 by partnering with major cloud providers, has laid the foundation for its digital transformation.

According to an article by Betty Gomez, Director of McDonald’s Cloud Business Office, when it came to migrating McDonald’s’ core applications, one of the initial challenges was ensuring data security, compliance and performance

By 2016 and into 2017, McDonald’s continued migrating more of its core and non-core applications out of physical data centres to public cloud providers, achieving scalability and agility – forming the backbone to support future digital innovations.

In 2017, McDonald’s took a significant step in its digital and cloud journey by focusing on customer-facing mobile and digital offerings, with the introduction of the McDonald’s Global Mobile App. This also enabled the integration of third-party delivery services, meaning customers could enjoy their favorite meals delivered to their doorstep, thanks to cloud-powered logistics and services.

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Using technology to unlock greater speed and efficiency

Today, McDonald’s aims to leverage scale and unlock greater speed and efficiency for customers, restaurant teams and employees through its technology strategy.

The company has made several acquisitions and formed partnerships with technology companies to advance its capabilities. In 2019 McDonald’s acquired Dynamic Yield, a leader in personalisation and decision logic technology, to provide a more personalised ordering experience for its customers: later selling it to Mastercard.   

In December, McDonald’s announced a strategic partnership with Google Cloud to connect the latest cloud technology and apply generative AI (Gen AI) solutions across its restaurants worldwide. This, the companies said, aims to help accelerate automation innovation from equipment manufacturers and allow restaurant general managers to quickly spot and enact solutions to reduce business disruptions. Overall, this will also reduce complexity for staff and lead to customer benefits such as hotter, fresher food.

“We’re focused on making AI more helpful for everyone, with the potential to unlock many new opportunities for innovation,” said Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet. “The restaurant industry is already benefiting from these advances, and we’re excited to see how McDonald’s will use our generative AI, cloud, and edge computing tools to improve their iconic dining experience for their employees and their customers all over the world.”

McDonald’s also recently announced an expansion of its strategic partnership with Accenture to help execute its strategy to leverage the latest edge technology and apply Gen AI solutions across its restaurants worldwide to improve operations as well as customer and crew experience. Through this work, McDonald’s also will enhance the digital capabilities of its employees.

This phase of innovation is also designed to build an even stronger technology team at McDonald's. Accenture will help train and support McDonald’s global workforce by using Accenture’s learning and development programs, online training courses and boot camps for emerging talent to ensure the workforce has the AI, data and edge computing skills needed in the digital era.

“To unlock the opportunity in our ongoing digital investments, we chose Accenture, our long-time partner who has helped us build our digital foundation, to work with us on this next phase of innovation,” commented Brian Rice, Executive VP and Global Chief Information Officer, McDonald's. “Accenture’s deep understanding of our business, our industry, and of course technology, will allow us to leverage the full potential of the cloud and Gen AI solutions by implementing advanced practices to quickly leverage those technologies as well as to nurture and empower the talent within our organization. Lifelong learning and digital upskilling are at the heart of our culture and long-term growth plans – and embedding this across our workforce will enable greater business agility and performance.”

“We are incredibly proud to continue to partner with McDonald’s as they reinvent the customer experience, stay ahead of their customers’ changing needs and reimagine what a restaurant can be,” added Julie Sweet, Chair and CEO, Accenture. “This new work will be a leading example across industries of innovating with tech data and AI at the core, across the cloud continuum, all the way to the edge. And doing so in a way that keeps their people in the forefront, building the skills they need to meet and delight their customers in new ways every day.”

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