- McDonald's is creating a digital customer engagement team and the role of Chief Digital Engagement Officer, according to an email obtained by Restaurant Dive. Lucy Brady, current SVP of corporate strategy and business development, will take on the new position and lead the team, which will report directly to CEO Chris Kempczinski.
- The team will oversee digital ordering, personalization, payments, loyalty and delivery.
- "For us to realize our digital potential, our customer, business and technology strategies must be well-aligned," Kempczinski said in a statement. "We must accelerate our focus on the digital experience by taking a more holistic approach that drives value from our existing customer-facing digital investments to better engage customers and drive profitable growth."
It's no surprise that McDonald's is doubling down on its digital strategy, and this new team aims to better position the QSR giant to improve its existing offerings and pursue new technology investments.
Putting Brady at the helm could help ensure a smooth transition since her prior team led McDonald's purchase of Dynamic Yield last year and she helped grow McDonald's food delivery business to a more than $4 billion asset in only three years. Kempczinski said in a statement that the Dynamic Yield deal is "tangibly driving check growth" and that the technology, which has already been added to 9,500 drive-thrus, will be rolled out nationwide by the end of 2020.
Brady said in a statement that the new digital team will announce their plans in April, including "holistic, customer centered" programs that will drive a strong return on investment.
The team's focus could settle on a number of McDonald's initiatives. In December, McDonald's partnered with a Dutch technology company to process mobile app payments and will launch the platform in the U.K. during the first quarter. The chain plans to expand the platform internationally as part of its push to better integrate new technologies into store operations. The QSR has also begun testing a ghost kitchen and a pickup-only location in London, technologies that could benefit its U.S. business as well, especially as rivals like Chick-fil-A expand into kitchen-only off-premise locations.
In September, McDonald's also acquired Apprente, a voice-based conversational technology company, to improve order taking at the drive-thru. The technology could also be added to mobile ordering and digital kiosks. Apprente is also now part of the new McDonald's Global Technology Team, called McD Tech Labs, which will focus more on hiring engineers, data scientists and other advanced technology experts.
It will also be interesting to see how franchisees react to continued technology investment. Operators have already been frustrated by the costs of the Experience of the Future store remodels, and additional digital assets could further discontent.