Chicago — In 2019, hamburger-and-fries fast-food chain emperor, McDonald’s, headquartered here, entered the digital transformation era with a vengeance — and in the process they may be just about to become a very big AI IoT edge data center network. Maybe the biggest build-out in the world?
First came the $300M acquisition of big data and analytics firm Dynamic Yield. They followed this up quickly by swallowing whole “do-you-want-fries-with-that” AI voice ordering system developer, Apprente.
Along with developing a mobile app, both of these acquisitions fit right in with the Silicon Valley-located McD Tech Labs and the chain’s Velocity Growth Plan vision of former CEO Steve Easterbrook, ousted in 2019.
The word is that each McDonald’s store will be equipped with its own micro edge data center to handle the AI voice-recognition, and other mobile app-generated data for the required real-time analytics processing.
The Apprente AI engine translates the analog audio directly to digital signal. It’s trick is in being able to deal with everyday accents and casual-speech vernacular. It’s better able to do that because it’s working inside the fixed borders of a known menu. According to 451 Researchreport on voice assistant technology by senior analyst Raúl Castañón-Martínez, “The company believes this provides a better approach for customer-experience-related use cases, particularly in noisy environments such as restaurants and public areas or in cases where customers tend to use colloquial, poorly structured language, resulting in low-accuracy speech recognition.”
That local system then connects to McDonald’s AWS Cloud, specifically, according to Amazon, EC2, Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon EBS and Amazon ElstiCache to support McDonald’s global Point-of-Sale system of 200,000 registers and 300,000 in-store devices (not counting customer mobile apps) that collectively serve 69 million customers a day at a clip of 8,600 transactions per second.
So, as this technology rolls-out globally, it comprises, likely, the world’s largest. By the end of last year the company said it would be in nearly all of its 14,000+ US locations. No word on what this means to McDonald’s employment.
Not good news, we’re guessing.