By The Meatheads, For The Meatheads—But Now, Not Of The Meatheads
Steve Easterbrook can probably afford a much better hair stylist, being CEO of the world-famous McDonald’s franchise. After all, the company’s profits have been on the rise since he took up the position at the dawn of 2015. Steve has an impressive CV; after starting from the “bottom levels” of corporate, as an accountant at major firm Price Waterhouse, he quickly rose up the financial ladder.
When he joined McDonald’s as a Financial Reporting Manager in 1993, his trend didn’t stop. He reached the position of chief executive for an underperforming McDonald’s UK in 2006. And right off the bat, he strove to retaliate against the negative reputation that environmental, animal rights, and personal health activists had conjured for the company: four weeks after getting the corner office, he debated Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, on BBC Newsnight; later, he had the company set up a website,
“makeupyourownmind,” that fought myths and criticism towards McDonald’s. Steve gained control of the rest of Northern Europe in 2007, and then the globe in 2015.
Easterbrook is ruthlessly geared towards increasing McDonald’s sales and profits, which is why his brand has acquired a New York (and Tel Aviv)-based artificial intelligence startup, “Dynamic Yield,” to build the ultimate optimized ordering menu. His vision is for customers to order off of a digital platform, whether it be their phone or a massive screen inviting them into the drive-thru line, which during the process recommends them selections, based on factors such as the time of day, time expected to produce, the present weather, and even their previous selections. In fact, these boards are already in their early phase of deployment. The software is up and running, and the boards have been introduced to 700 restaurants across the US.
Easterbrook is likely excited to see what profits these boards bring. The technique isn’t complicated; its one used by Internet advertisers such as Google, and online retailers such as Amazon, who make suggestions based on Internet activity. And Easterbrook isn’t alone; Wall Street is more than likely demanding, even, for them to make the leap towards AI, as they would for any company that can use the technology.
The future implications to this are hazy. While these technologies are presently an addition to the restaurants, future technology may serve more as a replacement for human workers. Cashiers serve as example to who could easily be replaced by such technologies. But for now, since the future is still being ushered in, most judgements are without backing.
What is known, however, is that this is just one more step in the digital age. Just as consumers can call a cab, order groceries, and communicate globally with no more than a press of a button, a high schooler can order a Big Mac with a side of fries, and keep their eyes down and headphones on throughout the process, all the way until they’re out the door. And just as this is fine with that high schooler, and with taxi driver-turned civilians, and with those holding computer science degrees hot off the press, it’s fine with Easterbrook. The English footballing club, Watford FC fan and family man—whose kids come to McDonalds twice or thrice a month—did not address these social changes, of course.
His vision is blind to this warm, fuzzy, distracted discussion; the 90th-largest company in the world needs to focus on profits—it must go miles above any such issue. McDonald’s serves “68 million” customers daily, about nine-tenths of one percent of the world’s population. So to Easterbrook, this software “Truly is a win-win-win [pause] technology.”
Written by Devaansh Mahtani & Edited By Alexander Fleiss