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09/15/2022

McDonald’s to build new customer experience/innovation hub

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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McDonald's
McDonald’s is supporting innovation with a new facility.

McDonald’s Corp. will bring multiple departments together in a facility called “Speedee Labs” at its global headquarters in Chicago.

Speedee Labs will be focused on driving the customer experience and supporting innovation. The new facility will utilize a combination of McDonald's existing footprint, as well as an additional 15,000 sq. ft. of leased space within the same building as its headquarters.

Employees from McDonald's corporate office and the company’s existing innovation center in Romeoville, Ill., will collaborate on end-to-end development of restaurant solutions and technologies. Speedee Labs expects a phased opening to begin in the second half of 2023, which is when employees currently operating services out of the innovation center will relocate to McDonald's headquarters. 

McDonald's plans to relocate all jobs from its Innovation Center in Romeoville to Speedee Labs. Since opening in 1995, the center has offered live restaurant testing, and more recently remote and simulation-based training, to help refine global operations and develop new solutions to improve experiences for customers and employees. Strategic initiatives including streamlined kitchen processes, updated cooking methods, the McDeliveryonline and mobile delivery service, and mobile order and pay were developed or tested at the Innovation Center.  

McDonald’s pursues innovation
As part of its strategic growth plan, "Accelerating the Arches," McDonald’s is committed to innovation across digital, delivery and drive-thru. The fast-food giant entered into a strategic partnership with IBM in October 2021 to accelerate the development and deployment of its automated order-taking technology (AOT) in its drive-thru lanes. As part of the deal, IBM acquired McD Tech Labs, which was known as Apprente before McDonald’s acquired the artificial intelligence company in 2019.

In other recent innovation projects, the fast-food hamburger giant is now supporting the payment capabilities of its U.S. consumer app with technology from Ayden. The two companies began working together in early 2020 in the U.K., and are now expanding to other markets globally.

In particular, this new U.S. mobile payment partnership will make life (and ordering food) easier for members of the McDonald’s MyRewards loyalty program. The company rolled out MyMcDonald’s Rewards, its first-ever national loyalty program in the U.S., at participating stores across the country via its mobile app in July 2021. 

McDonald’s appointed Brian Rice as executive VP and global CIO in August 2021. Rice joined McDonald’s from Cardinal Health, where he had served as executive VP, CIO and Global Business Services, since 2019. Prior to Cardinal, Rice was senior VP, CIO, Global Business Services, at Kellogg Company, 2009 to 2019. He also served as global services information officer for General Motors, 2005 to 2009.

In its most recent quarter, the company said its digital sales were $6 billion in its top six markets alone.

"Our customers' and restaurant teams' needs are changing, and meeting their expectations requires us to work together in new ways," said Manu Steijaert, McDonald's executive VP and chief customer officer. "Just as the creation of McDonald's customer experience team brought key aspects of our business strategy together, the creation of Speedee Labs will enable more of our customers, restaurant teams, markets and global teams to contribute to our innovation, while driving growth and creating more seamless and memorable McDonald's experiences." 

McDonald's has nearly 40,000 corporate and franchised locations in more than 100 countries.