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McDonald’s is jumping into the app world, but with multiple motives?

(TECH NEWS) McDonald’s is following suit and will begin implementing different tech strategies to increase business but are there ulterior motives?

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McDonald’s app

Customer loyalty programs are hardly anything novel, and many rely on information you willingly share to mine data about your browsing and shopping habits to then refine your customer experience. What is new, then?

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McDonald’s is jumping into the fray.

Self-serve

According to reporting by Samantha Bomkamp at the Chicago Tribune, a nationwide mobile ordering system will be in place by the end of the year at the fast-food giant which aims to customize your dining experience based on your choices. Faced with a continued pattern of declining customer traffic, this represents a large investment of both time and attention towards becoming competitive in digital innovation.

The plan is for McDonald’s to use the information to create a custom experience for diners, with the app providing personalized suggestions and coupons based on your previous ordering history.

They’ve had a smartphone app for the past few years, but there’s been no personalization involved, nor has it provided what they’ve been testing in international markets for some time: the ability to both order and pay through the app.

Not just for giggles

The ability to both order and pay through the app isn’t just a nicety. Their research has found that per customer sales have risen by an average of 35 percent in Japan.

Silvia Lagnado, McDonald’s Global Chief Marketing Officer, stated to the Chicago Tribune that customers return more frequently based on the ease of ordering through the app, and when customers take the app’s recommendations on adding other items to their order, those items are saved and then suggested to the customer on their next visit, driving spending higher.

In Singapore, a recently completed trial had McDonald’s using the app to use Google ads in places with lighter customer traffic, in an attempt to drive both in store sales and delivery orders.

Mostly unchartered waters

David Pierpont, an executive vice president at marketing firm Ansira, speaking to the Chicago Tribune, said that the ability to quickly and appropriately use data to improve the customer experience is largely unexplored territory with huge benefits.

“Consumers are willing to share data if the benefits are right,” he said. “I think you’re going to see more and more. [Millenials] say they don’t want to give everything away, but they’re on Facebook, they’re on Google…”

Measuring the difference

To track the impact of their digital efforts, McDonald’s is working with a new ad agency, We Are Unlimited, a spinoff of Omnicom, which recently won all of the national advertising business for the fast-food giant.

As a part of that work, they’re partnering with Facebook to track the effectiveness of their ad spend.

They can do that by taking Facebook’s location-tracking information and translating that to time it takes from when a customer sees a McDonald’s ad on Facebook and then walks into a restaurant. With approximately 90 percent of Facebook users utilizing location tracking services, this allows McDonald’s to have a relatively wide swath of data on the buying habits of potential customers.

Not without faults

Sometimes those buying habits are counter-intuitive. As we reported before, Starbucks had fantastic response to the unveiling of its app, which also allowed customers to place and pay for orders before ever entering the stores.

That convenience, however, also led to a reduction in impulse purchases, and thus revenue, leaving the coffee giant scratching its collective head.

When it comes to the bottom line, how much innovation and convenience can one reasonably afford?

Two birds, one stone

Some have posited that McDonald’s is really attempting to solve two problems at once with the roll out of the app: increasing store traffic and revenue and potentially using that data to decrease expenditures, such as labor costs. While McDonald’s is not publicly focusing on other avenues of use for granular data centered around customer purchasing habits, it does stand to reason that data analysis might also highlight menu items that are less popular, and can therefore be eliminated, or identify times that fewer staff simply aren’t needed, no matter the offers made, this eliminating jobs or hours worked for employees.

Brian Nienhaus, CEO of We Are Unlimited, is placing the agency’s focus squarely on improving customer experience for the present, however.

“What does the modern customer want?”, said Nienhaus, speaking to the Chicago Tribune. “They want to use technology to enable their convenience. They want to be able to pay with it. All those things that are going on, I think we’re just tapping into them.”

#McDonaldsApp

Roger is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds two Master's degrees, one in Education Leadership and another in Leadership Studies. In his spare time away from researching leadership retention and communication styles, he loves to watch baseball, especially the Red Sox!

Tech News

Tinder creators launch Ripple, a professional networking app void of pros

(TECH NEWS) Ex-Tinder employees have come together, backed by Match.com, to create a swipe-based professional network, but we don’t plan on giving it a second date.

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In 2015, we discussed briefly the possibilities of taking the dating app’s and repurposing them for professional networking. What if finding professional connections was as easy as finding a date on Tinder? Tinder (executives) literally heard us because they have introduced a solution in their new mobile app called Ripple.

Not to be confused with Ripple the cryptocurrency, Ripple the app is a professional networking tool that literally feels like Tinder.

As it should, the former CTO, Director of Engineering, and Lead Designer of Tinder all make up the founders, along with Mike Presz from Match.com. People who make good dating platforms came together for a professional networking solution that they hope makes networking easier, more natural, and more modern. I took the liberty of signing up for a few days and experimented with the app and I have a few things to say about it…

The good?

Design. Design. Design. The app has a luxuriously simple UI, and is fabulously easy to use. If you even tried Tinder for six minutes, you’ll be able to use this app. The use of symbols, big images, and easy UI is great. The application navigates simply.

It’s fantastic. It’s minimal, it’s content oriented, the interest categories are so good (but they could be better – no interest in process improvements? Go learn about Six Sigma) LinkedIn should look it. The profile set up takes no time at all, about five minutes and you’re ready to go.

But that’s about it.

Everything that’s not good? Everything else.

This is probably because the app is new, but there is nothing going on for the US market. I saw a lot of European professionals and professional groups, but zero people in my area, a major US metropolitan area also called Dallas-Fort Worth. The lack of content and the lack of professionals means the app has nothing.

I can’t rate group experience or say I met the mentor of my professional dreams because no one is on it. Which leads me to ask: What’s next?

The branding, marketing, and advertising for this app are going to have to take off. This is a beautiful product, but the lack of content makes it a pretty dull use. I had to actively remind myself to use it, and I’m in a serial relationship with LinkedIn.

Basically, no second date for me with Ripple until they get… something to happen.

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The cutest part of CES was Sony’s AI robot doggo, Aibo

(TECH NEWS) The Consumer Electronics Show revealed the technologies that are dominating and will dominate the market, with Sony’s AI puppers stealing the show.

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One of the most endearing items to emerge from CES this year was Sony’s revamped robot dog, Aibo.

Aibo’s first unveiling in 1999 featured a blend of emergent Sony technology, such as their Memory Stick and companion operating system. By the time of its demise in 2006, the Aibo was equipped with a large vocabulary (it could speak 1,000 words) and could interact with an owner’s commands and motion. The computerized canine wasn’t limited to just the realm of their traditional counterparts, however – the 2006 model of the Aibo could take pictures from the eye-embedded camera system, play music, and write blogs.

Equipped with more personality and a better interactive capability with its environment, the 2018 Aibo looks more like a real dog as well.

Composed of 4,000 parts and OLED-screen eyes to more authentically mimic movements, Sony says it relies on sensor systems and embedded cameras akin to those in self-driving cars to provide as close to an authentic experience as they can. The cameras, located in nose and tail, allow the robot to learn its way around the house and to deliver it back to its charging station once the two-hour charge runs out.

Reviewers at CES noted that the updated version of the Aibo was very “puppy-likem” barking and scampering with unlimited energy.

The current model is also touch responsive on its head, back and under its chin, allowing the user to give “puppy love” in a way that mimics that of what real dogs like.

Perhaps proving that Aibo is capable of acting more and more like a real dog, the robot canine was unresponsive to commands from Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai on stage at its unveiling, prompting Hirai to return Aibo to Sony staff quickly.

Slated to go on sale in Japan later this year, the dog isn’t cheap, priced at nearly $1,800, but does find itself selling into a dedicated Aibo fanbase from its earlier issue and a consumer market which is hungrier and more accepting for interactive experiences of this type of poo-free pet ownership.

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Tech News

Lyft offers test rides in their autonomous cars – how’d it go?

(TECH NEWS) Lyft let passengers roll around Vegas in their self-driving cars, and surprisingly, no shocking viral videos resulted.

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If you haven’t been paying attention to the progress of self-driving cars, you’re in for a shock – they’re closer to a daily reality than you might think. As part of this year’s CES conference, Lyft offered test rides in a handful of their autonomous cars, and the results were reportedly decent.

Unlike other companies’ public tests in the past, Lyft’s demonstrations consisted of normal passengers taking normal routes in Las Vegas; there was little in the way of preemptive route control, meaning that the tests were as authentic as possible. Passengers were able to board autonomous Lyfts from the Las Vegas convention center, with some testers traveling well over three miles with minimal operator interference.

The cars themselves are designed by Aptiv, which is a technology company heretofore unaffiliated with Lyft.

While both companies are aware of the potential for flaws and the need to iron them out before production begins en masse, test riders reported that the cars were able to anticipate and respond to a myriad of traffic conditions (for example, slowing down to allow a faster vehicle to merge); this bodes well for the 2020 goal that many autonomous car companies have set.

Naturally, there were a few kinks in the cars’ respective operations, including yellow light confusion and some other finessing issues, wherein the cars’ human operators had to intervene.

The technology behind self-driving cars is only part of the equation, however. As autonomous vehicles become more commonplace, cities will have to adapt to accommodate them.

This process will most likely include things like redefining road architecture, legislation regarding car use (at the moment, autonomous cars must always have a driver in them), and implementation of smart technology.

There’s also the matter of public perception. While most of the reports from the Lyft demo in Las Vegas were positive, the fact remains that plenty of people will be skeptical of new technology – as well they should be, since any emerging technology is bound to make a few bad headlines before it evens out.

How Lyft counters this perception will be key in determining the future of its autonomous fleet, and perhaps even the future of autonomous cars as a whole.

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