McDonald’s IT scale challenges

Microsoft organized yesterday its yearly VC Summit, which is always a great occasion to catch up on Microsoft’s product plans and most importantly meet with about 100 of their senior executives representing their different business lines. Venture capitalists from the US and Europe gather for a full day of briefing, discussions and networking.

One of the panels of the day involved a number of senior IT executives discussing the challenges of their respective organization (Motorola, Morgan Stanley, Mc Donald’s,…). I actually thought that McDonald’s IT and organizational challenges were really complex:

  • They have 31,000 locations over the world, sometimes in places where Internet or IP connectivity is barely available
  • Their distribution is such that it is challenging to find IT providers who will scale to their size
  • They have 1.6M employees, who have an average turnover of 100% per year across the workforce (i.e some people only stay a few weeks or a few month while others stay longer)

The few requirements they mentioned are better remote IT management and monitoring tools, infrastructure that allows business applications to run in disconnected mode whilst needing minimum local deployments and installation, and new learning/elearning tools delivered through games a la SecondLife in order to train their ever rotating workforce.

The issue for startups to get involved in these IT projects “at the edge” is daunting because of the sheer size of their “network” of locations.


  • Don Dodge on The Next Big Thing

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