If you’ve ever walked into McDonald’s and thought you’d like a side of tech with your Big Mac, don’t worry—the fast food chain as you covered. McDonald’s has just dropped $300 million to revamp its electronic menus with the help of some machine learning.
This week, Mickey Dees bought Dynamic Yield Ltd, a New York-based startup that specializes in “decision logic technology.” Or, in simpler terms, Dynamic Yield uses AI to figure out what people like so that McDonald’s can present its version of a non-chronological newsfeed on its menus. Whereas Facebook will serve up fresh outrage based on your web surfing habits and engagement with posts, McDonald’s will suggest items based on factors like the time of day or the location.
So, if it’s early in the morning, it might suggest coffee and a McGriddle. If it’s a scorcher outside, you might get suggestions for McFlurries. Maybe if it’s April 20th, you’ll get a suggestion for 100 Chicken McNuggets and an extra helping of fries to satisfy the munchies. The algorithm will also suggest add-ons based on currently selected items; so if you’ve ordered that Quarter Pounder, you could see pop-ups for a side of fries, soda, and so on.
This is McDonald’s largest acquisition in 20 years, and it’s just the latest in the company’s push to be more tech savvy. In recent years, it’s added self-service kiosks, delivery via UberEats, and a McDonald’s mobile ordering app.
McDonald’s plans to introduce the tech to its drive-thrus sometime in 2019, before expanding it to international markets, self-serve kiosks, and its app. The company apparently tested the tech in some of its 38,000 restaurants last year.
Let’s be honest, it’s a bit ridiculous that such an iconic menu needs an expensive algorithm to tell you what you probably already know you want. This will acquisition will likely be remembered as a prime example of corporations’ algorithm-fever run amok. But maybe we’ll see some good come out of it too—like burying its godforsaken parasite salads deep, deep under a pile of burgers in your menu options, right where they belong.