Domino’s Pizza Enterprises is always in a constant mode of ‘transformation’, says group CIO, Wayne McMahon.
“We are proud of how we have used technology to disrupt the quick service restaurant (QSR) industry. Our kind of ‘constant;’ transformation ensures our digital and other technical innovation is leading (if not bleeding) edge,” he says.
“For example, we are embracing technologies such as autonomous delivery and artificial intelligence to facilitate delivery via autonomous vehicles and drones – something most QSRs have not even considered.
“As a true disruptor, we don’t see technology projects as transformative, they are part of our corporate DNA, part of our culture, and synonymous with a business that is a leader in the technology space.”
He says many Domino’s innovations are launched first in New Zealand and Australia and then rolled out into other markets which provides a variety of learnings for the business.
The first commercial delivery of food by drone to a customer, anywhere in the world, for instance, was made by Domino’s New Zealand, in November last year.
Domino’s Pizza and drone delivery partner Flirtey delivered the first order, a Peri-Peri Chicken Pizza, and a Chicken and Cranberry Pizza, to a customer in Whangaparaoa, north of Auckland. The unmanned aerial vehicle, DRU Drone by Flirtey, was autonomously controlled using GPS navigation, overseen by a team of drone experts and a qualified and experienced drone pilot.
The use of DRU Drone by Flirtey as a delivery method is designed to work alongside Domino’s current delivery fleet and ultimately will be fully integrated into online ordering and GPS systems. Domino’s is looking at opportunities for drone delivery trials in its six other markets – Australia, Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Japan and Germany.
Another significant innovation in the past year has been the deployment of the Domino’s GPS Driver Tracker (GPSDT), the biggest change in the brand’s 54-year history.
GPSDT was intended to work as a fleet management system to ensure the safety of its drivers. But the organisation saw the benefit to customers of being able to track their order from the store to the door. This provides full transparency over the delivery process, reducing friction and saving drivers much needed time.
Prior to the launch of this service, stores could only manage two data points – the time it took to make a pizza and the time it took for a driver to make a delivery. GPSDT now lets stores measure six different aspects of the process: the time it takes to take an order, to make an order, time in the oven, time in the hot rack, the time it takes to make a delivery, and the length of time the driver spends with the customer.
“These data points highlighted instore inefficiencies to Domino’s and it soon became clear that by reducing these inefficiencies the stores could provide a faster, fresher product to our customers,” McMahon says.
GPSDT has provided a new level of transparency for customers and the organisation’s operational processes. The technology eradicated processes such as double or triple deliveries and altered store operators to the fact that products were waiting in the hot rack for too long.
Digital innovations galore
Over the past year, Domino’s has delivered more than 130 digital projects. In addition to GPSDT, the organisation has created various digital interfaces and enhanced existing apps, expanded its OneDigital global online ordering platform across seven markets, introduced SMS ordering, and On Time cooking.
Earlier this year, the company launched an autonomous delivery vehicle named DRU (Domino’s Robotic Unit), a purpose-built prototype that can safely deliver pizza to customers by travelling autonomous on footpaths.
Domino’s is even having a crack at delivering food using drones. Earlier this year, New Zealand was chosen as the launch market for the first commercial drone delivery service in the world – and in November it became reality as the company officially launched its drone delivery service there.
“The addition of all these solutions and innovations has led to the Domino’s brand being synonymous with technology. No longer are we just a pizza company but our continual developments of technology continue to drive home the concept that we are also a technology business,” McMahon says.
Innovation is everything to Domino’s, he adds. So much so that many of the organisation’s innovative ideas come from internal staff members. The Domino’s Innovation Lab at its Brisbane head office encourages staff to work on projects for the business.
The lab has attracted guest speakers on innovation and design thinking to inspire staff and creatively resolve inefficiencies in the business. Internal staff work with full time research and project management staff to develop and trial ideas and tackle business challenges.
“[Innovation] is at the forefront of my mind each and every day and it’s what inspires me in my role. I see focusing on digital and technical innovation as one of the most important parts of my role as a CIO. With the full support of our group CEO and the board, I am able to focus on this area for much of my time.
“As the CIO, I see myself as the delivery arm of our whole-of-business innovation agenda. I am responsible for delivering the innovative roadmap of projects that our business requires,” he says.
A unique role
McMahon says his role as CIO is unique because even though Domino’s is a quick service restaurant, “from an IT perspective we look more like an IT company”.
“My role is effectively running an internal IT business to deliver technology and innovation for Domino’s. As such, my role probably differs from other CIO roles in other companies. My challenges are different; my focus and my priorities are most likely different to other CIOs,” McMahon says.
“My biggest challenge is cost-effectively scaling our resources to meet the delivery demands of our business. Anyone can scale if they throw enough money at it but we have to do this cost-effectively to benefit our franchisees.
“Another challenge I face is to quickly, effectively and cost efficiently harness brand new and emerging technologies, which at times are complete unknowns. An example would be the DRU,” he says.
“With that said, the challenge to constantly deliver change and bleeding-edge technology is what my team and I thrive on most. It’s what gets us out of bed, what we truly enjoy and what is most important to us.”