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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

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

Career consultants help job seekers beat AI robot interviews

(TECH NEWS) With the growth of artificial intelligence conducting the job screening, consultants in South Korea have come up with an innovative response.

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job screening by robot

When it comes to resume screenings, women and people of color are regularly passed over, even if they have the exact same resume as a man. In order to give everyone a fair try, we need a system that’s less biased. With the cool, calculating depictions of artificial intelligence in modern media, it’s tempting to say that AI could help us solve our resume screening woes. After all, nothing says unbiased like a machine…right?

Wrong.

I mean, if you need an example of what can go wrong with AI, look no further than Microsoft’s Tay, which went from making banal conversation to spouting racist and misogynistic nonsense in less than 24 hours. Not exactly the ideal.

Sure, Tay was learning from Twitter, which is a hotbed of cruelty and conflict, but the thing is, professional software isn’t always much better. Google’s software has been caught offering biased translations (assuming, for example, if you wrote “engineer” you were referring to a man) and Amazon has been called out for using job screening software that was biased against women.

And that’s just part of what could go wrong with AI scanning your resume. After all, even if gender and race are accounted for (which, again, all bets are off), you’d better bet there are other things – like specific phrases – that these machines are on the lookout for.

So, how do you stand out when it’s a machine, not a human, judging your work? Consultants in South Korea have a solution: teach people how to work around the bots. This includes anything from resume work to learning what facial expressions are ideal for filmed interviews.

It helps that many companies use the same software to do screening. Instead of trying to prepare to impress a wide variety of humans, if someone knew the right tricks for handling an AI system, they could potentially put in much less work. For example, maybe one human interviewer likes big smiles, while the other is put off by them. The AI system, on the other hand, won’t waver from company to company.

Granted, this solution isn’t foolproof either. Not every business uses the same program to scan applicants, for instance. Plus, this tech is still in its relative infancy – a program could easily be in flux as requirements are tweaked. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll actually have application software that can more accurately serve as a judge of applicant quality.

In the meantime, there’s always AI interview classes.

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Tech News

Google chrome: The anti-cookie monster in 2022

(TECH NEWS) If you are tired of third party cookies trying to grab every bit of data about you, google has heard and responded with their new updates.

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3rd party cookies

Google has announced the end of third-party tracking cookies on its Chrome browser within the next two years in an effort to grant users better means of security and privacy. With third-party cookies having been relied upon by advertising and social media networks, this move will undoubtedly have ramifications on the digital ad sector.

Google’s announcement was made in a blog post by Chrome engineering director, Justin Schuh. This follows Google’s Privacy Sandbox launch back in August, an initiative meant to brainstorm ideas concerning behavioral advertising online without using third-party cookies.

Chrome is currently the most popular browser, comprising of 64% of the global browser market. Additionally, Google has staked out its role as the world’s largest online ad company with countless partners and intermediaries. This change and any others made by Google will affect this army of partnerships.

This comes in the wake of rising popularity for anti-tracking features on web browsers across the board. Safari and Firefox have both launched updates (Intelligent Tracking Prevention for Safari and the Enhanced Tracking Prevention for Firefox) with Microsoft having recently released the new Edge browser which automatically utilizes tracking prevention. These changes have rocked share prices for ad tech companies since last year.

The two-year grace period before Chrome goes cookie-less has given the ad and media industries time to absorb the shock and develop plans of action. The transition has soften the blow, demonstrating Google’s willingness to keep positive working relations with ad partnerships. Although users can look forward to better privacy protection and choice over how their data is used, Google has made it clear it’s trying to keep balance in the web ecosystems which will likely mean compromises for everyone involved.

Chrome’s SameSite cookie update will launch in February, requiring publishers and ad tech vendors to label third-party cookies that can be used elsewhere on the web.

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Tech News

Computer vision helps AI create a recipe from just a photo

(TECH NEWS) It’s so hard to find the right recipe for that beautiful meal you saw on tv or online. Well computer vision helps AI recreate it from a picture!

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computer vision recreates recipe

Ever seen at a photo of a delicious looking meal on Instagram and wondered how the heck to make that? Now there’s an AI for that, kind of.

Facebook’s AI research lab has been developing a system that can analyze a photo of food and then create a recipe. So, is Facebook trying to take on all the food bloggers of the world now too?

Well, not exactly, the AI is part of an ongoing effort to teach AI how to see and then understand the visual world. Food is just a fun and challenging training exercise. They have been referring to it as “inverse cooking.”

According to Facebook, “The “inverse cooking” system uses computer vision, technology that extracts information from digital images and videos to give computers a high level of understanding of the visual world,”

The concept of computer vision isn’t new. Computer vision is the guiding force behind mobile apps that can identify something just by snapping a picture. If you’ve ever taken a photo of your credit card on an app instead of typing out all the numbers, then you’ve seen computer vision in action.

Facebook researchers insist that this is no ordinary computer vision because their system uses two networks to arrive at the solution, therefore increasing accuracy. According to Facebook research scientist Michal Drozdzal, the system works by dividing the problem into two parts. A neutral network works to identify ingredients that are visible in the image, while the second network pulls a recipe from a kind of database.

These two networks have been the key to researcher’s success with more complicated dishes where you can’t necessarily see every ingredient. Of course, the tech team hasn’t stepped foot in the kitchen yet, so the jury is still out.

This sounds neat and all, but why should you care if the computer is learning how to cook?

Research projects like this one carry AI technology a long way. As the AI gets smarter and expands its limits, researchers are able to conceptualize new ways to put the technology to use in our everyday lives. For now, AI like this is saving you the trouble of typing out your entire credit card number, but someday it could analyze images on a much grander scale.

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