No, McDonald's didn't buy a competitor.
It bought a tech company.
That's right, McDonald's has reached an agreement to acquire Dynamic Yield, an Israeli startup that specializes in "decision logic" technology. This tech uses data acquired from previous purchases to recommend additional purchases. (Think, the "customers like you also bought" suggestions when shopping on Amazon, for example.)
McDonald's stated it will use its new technology to provide more personalized customer experiences. For example, the company has tested digital drive-thru screens that show food based on various factors, including time of day, weather, and trending menu items. Additionally, the technology can instantly suggest and display items a customer might want, based on their current selections.
Just think of the implications of this. When you're at a McDonald's drive-thru, your order screen could suggest items that are especially popular with other McDonald's customers. (Or other customers in your region.) If it's a cold day, the menu could feature a coffee or tea, front and center.
And what about rush hour, when the drive-thru line tends to get out of control? Well, then the order screen could feature items that are especially quick to prepare, which could help reduce overall wait time.
These developments are already potential game changers. But we've barely scratched the surface.