McDonald’s Partners Up With IBM To Automate Drive-Thrus As Labor Shortage Rages On

Fast-food giant McDonald’s has announced they are forming a partnership with IBM to automate drive-thrus for their restaurants, a deal that comes about as a major labor shortage continues to impact most business sectors of the U.S. economy.

Well, we could all take an opportunity to say, “I told you so,” right about now, couldn’t we? Didn’t we try to warn the left that by providing benefits for so long in the wake of the pandemic this was the sort of thing that would happen?

A new report from CNBC says, “As part of the deal, IBM will acquire McD Tech Labs, which was formerly known as Apprente before McDonald’s bought the tech company in 2019. McDonald’s didn’t disclose financial terms for either transaction.”

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“The Apprente technology uses AI to understand drive-thru orders. This summer, McDonald’s tested the tech in a handful of Chicago restaurants. Kempczinski said that the test showed “substantial benefits” to customers and employees,” the report continued.

“In my mind, IBM is the ideal partner for McDonald’s given their expertise in building AI-powered customer care solutions and voice recognition,” McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski went on to state during the company’s most recent earnings call.

The Daily Wire reported back in June that executives for McDonald’s foresaw that this new technology would be making appearances all over the country.

“There is a big leap between going from 10 restaurants in Chicago to 14,000 restaurants across the U.S. with an infinite number of promo permutations, menu permutations, dialect permutations, weather — I mean, on and on and on and on,” Kempczinski remarked. “Do I think in five years from now you’re going to see a voice in the drive-thru? I do, but I don’t think that this is going to be something that happens in the next year or so.”

A new report from the Daily Wire said, “The first tests of the automated system occurred as federal lawmakers sought increases to the minimum wage. Today, however, the economy is gripped by rampant labor shortages.”

Between April 2021 and August 2021, the economy created a net 2 million new jobs. Nevertheless, overall employment is still 3% lower than pre-recession levels.

As employers compete for a diminished pool of available labor, many are instead relying upon technology. Morning Consult’s Small Business Recovery Survey — which surveyed 608 small to midsize businesses between August 5 and August 16 — found that roughly three in ten have turned to automation.

The labor shortage is also triggering high prices in other sectors. For example, online real estate marketplace Zillow is halting its recent home-buying spree amid a lack of workers in the construction industry.

“We’re operating within a labor- and supply-constrained economy inside a competitive real estate market, especially in the construction, renovation and closing spaces,” Chief Operating Officer Jeremy Wacksman commented. “We have not been exempt from these market and capacity issues.”


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