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McDonald’s acquires AI company for $300m to improve drive-thru service

The tech could be used to recommend customers buy a McFlurry on a sunny day

McDonald’s has moved into the field of AI following a $300m (£226.7m) deal for a machine learning company.

The deal between the fast food giant and Dynamic Yield, a tech company with offices in New York and Tel Aviv, hopes to improve the drive-thru experience for customers.

The company’s technology uses machine learning - a type of AI - to provide automatically personalised menus for customers based on external factors such as the weather, time of day or trending items.

For example, on a sunny day, Dynamic Yield’s systems could recommend that customers buy a McFlurry.

Steve Easterbrook, president and CEO of the McDonald’s Corporation, said: “Technology is a critical element of our velocity growth plan, enhancing the experience for our
customers by providing greater convenience on their terms.”

“With this acquisition, we’re expanding both our ability to increase the role technology and data will play in our future and the speed with which we’ll be able to implement our vision of creating more personalised experiences for our customers.”

The company’s growth plan, outlined in 2017, highlights digital technology as one of three “accelerators” that could reshape the company’s interactions with consumers.

Recent technology advancements from McDonald’s include the launch of a new app, mobile orders and digital self-service kiosks.


What does Dynamic Yield’s AI technology do?

McDonald’s first started testing Dynamic Yield’s software in US stores last year and plans to begin rolling out the technology across its US drive-thru restaurants later this year.

McDonald's AI
McDonald’s is planning to use the AI technology on digital drive-thru boards (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The fast food company also has plans to use system in its touchscreen order points inside restaurants.

Dynamic Yield’s decision engine uses predictive algorithms and machine learning to provide personalised recommendations to customers.

It is already used by companies such as Lacoste, Urban Outfitters, IKEA and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, which used the personalisation tech to boost sales on its mobile shop.

Liad Agmon, co-founder and CEO of Dynamic Yield, said: “We started Dynamic Yield seven years ago with the premise that customer-centric brands must make personalisation a core activity.

“We’re thrilled to be joining an iconic global brand such as McDonald’s and are excited to innovate in ways that have a real impact on people’s daily lives.”