By The Visual Journalism Team - BBC News
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to leave the EU "come what may" by the 31 October - the date the UK must depart if no deal has been reached.
An extra £2.1bn of funding has been announced to prepare for such a no-deal Brexit.
How could you be affected if the UK does leave the EU without an agreement?
1. The contents of your shopping basket may change
The government has said that while a no-deal Brexit alone won't lead to food shortages, consumer behaviour could. Panic buying could mean food retailers run short of some products.
In preparation, supermarkets say, they have been stockpiling some foods - but they are unable to do that for some fresh fruit and veg.
Sainsbury's has also said October would be one of the worst times for the UK to exit the EU without a deal because
warehouse capacity is already strained by the seasonal stock build-up ahead of Black Friday and Christmas, limiting supermarkets' ability to store goods ahead of Brexit.
Shoppers planning to buy from companies based in the EU, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland after a no-deal Brexit have also been warned credit and debit card charges may be higher and payments may take longer.
2. You will need to take extra measures when travelling to Europe
Millions of people from the UK travel abroad each year - the vast majority of journeys made to Europe.
If you are planning to make a journey to an EU member state after Brexit, the government is advising you to check you have the right paperwork.
Travel to Ireland will not change, even if there's no deal. You'll continue to be able to travel and work there in the same way as before.
The government is advising you to make sure your passport is valid for at least six months if you are travelling to most countries in Europe - the full list is here.
Until recently, UK citizens who renewed their passport before it expired could have up to nine months of the remaining validity added to their new travel document.
But the government has now warned that this time carried over may not count towards the six-month requirement after a no-deal Brexit. You can check if your passport has enough time left with this government tool.
You'll need to renew your passport before travelling if you do not have enough validity left. It usually takes three weeks.
You won't need a visa for stays of up to 90 days out of any 180-day period in the EU or Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland (the European Economic Area). However, you may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, or to work or study.
When new rules are confirmed, information about visa requirements will be on each country's travel advice page.
The government has also advised that at EU borders you may need to:
In addition, if there is no deal, then in theory the cover provided by your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) would cease to exist.
The government is advising travellers "whether there's a deal or not" to "get appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover".
However you intend to travel, in the event of no-deal Brexit, the government says, you should check before you leave for any delays or disruption.
If you intend to drive in the EU, you'll need some extra documents:
However, the government does warn some bus and coach services to non-EU countries, such as Switzerland or Andorra, may not be able to run.
If you have a UK bank account and intend to use your bank card to pay for goods and services while you are in the EU as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, the government has warned that it may become more expensive.
3. You may need to check medication is available and it may be more expensive
Ministers and NHS leaders say every effort is being made to ensure there will be enough medicines and clinical equipment available in the event of delays to imports from the EU.
However, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society warned in January that pharmacists were struggling to obtain common medicines - including painkillers and anti-depressants.
While there are regular fluctuations in medicine supplies, there are concerns a no-deal Brexit could make shortages worse.
About three-quarters of the medicines and most of the clinical products we use come from or via the EU.
The government says the main risk to supply is reduced traffic flow between the ports of Calais and Dover or Folkestone.
The government has announced a further £434m of funding to be spent on ensuring vital medicines and medical products are available.
Other measures taken include:
4. UK nationals living abroad may have to take extra measures
About 1.3 million UK-born people live in the other 27 EU countries.
The UK government has requested that EU countries reciprocate its promise to uphold the rights of EU citizens in the UK, meaning UK citizens living in the EU would be able to continue their lives broadly as now.
In event of no deal, this would ensure they would have continued access to employment, healthcare, education, benefits and other services.
The government has announced a public information campaign and an increase in consular support for Britons living abroad, at a cost of £138m.
It advises UK citizens living in the EU to subscribe to updates from the relevant country advice pages.
UK nationals living in, working in, or visiting the EU may find their access to healthcare in EU member states will change after the UK leaves the EU with no deal. This will depend on decisions made by each country.
However, the UK government says it is seeking bilateral agreements to maintain healthcare rights, as a top priority.
Information on how to access healthcare abroad can be found on the NHS website.
The UK government will continue to pay state pension, child benefits, and disability benefits to eligible UK nationals in the EU.
The UK's exit from the EU will not change existing double taxation arrangements, which apply to EU countries.
These ensure everyone - not just British citizens - living in a country that has a treaty with the UK will not pay tax in two countries on the same income or gain - and determine which country has primary taxing rights.
5. EU citizens need to apply for 'settled status'
The UK government has reached an agreement with the EU, as well as Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland, that will protect the rights of EU citizens and their family members living in the UK.
There are about 3.7 million EU citizens living in the UK.
If you are an EU citizen and living in the UK, the government has a tool to find out what you need to do and when.
Government advice on applying for settled and pre-settled status
6. Importing goods from the EU may get more expensive
Importing goods from the EU is likely to get more expensive when free movement of goods ends with the UK's departure.
As a member of the EU, UK firms don't have to pay extra duties, taxes or have customs checks on goods travelling to or from the EU.
But after a no-deal Brexit, new rules will apply. UK businesses will need to apply the same processes to EU trade that apply when trading with the rest of the world.
In March, the government published a 1,477-page document outlining their plan for tariffs in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
A tariff is a tax applied to goods that are traded on international markets. Mostly, they are applied to imported goods by the country importing them. But there can also be tariffs on exported goods.
Under the temporary scheme, 87% of imports by value would be eligible for zero-tariff access. At the moment, 80% of imports are tariff free.
Tariffs would be maintained to protect some industries, including agriculture. Beef, lamb, poultry and some dairy products would receive protection.
7. House prices could be affected
Most commentators and industry experts agree uncertainty created by the Brexit process is causing buyers and sellers to sit tight, causing a slowdown in the housing market.
Annual house price growth has been below 1% for the six months in a row to May, according to data compiled by Nationwide.
Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said that Brexit uncertainty was likely to have "instilled some caution in buyers".
The Bank of England says the impact of the UK leaving the EU on the housing market could be significant.
It has said house prices could fall by up to 30% from pre-Brexit levels if there was no deal, or a "disorderly Brexit".
Property agents Savills suggest buyer confidence will have a bigger role to play than affordability in house price movements this year.
Will the value of your home change in 2019?
8. Mobile phone roaming charges may rise
Using your mobile in the EU may be more expensive in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the government has warned.
The amounts EU mobile operators would be able to charge UK operators for providing roaming services would no longer be regulated after Brexit.
However, some mobile operators (3, EE, O2 and Vodafone) have said that they have no current plans to change their approach to mobile roaming after the UK leaves the EU.
If your mobile operator is proposing to reintroduce surcharges for roaming, or change the terms on which it offers roaming, the government advises you to understand how to turn off data roaming on your mobile phone.
9. Some ports and motorways could see extra delays
Former Transport Secretary Chris Grayling warned there could be freight traffic disruption in Kent in the event of a no deal, if additional customs checks are introduced in Calais, Coquelles and Dunkirk - where freight services disembark.
At the moment, freight vehicles going through Dover are subject to passport and security checks.
The government has announced £344m more funding to be spent on new border and customs operations.
This includes recruiting an extra 500 border force officers, in addition to 500 already announced, while there will also be more money for training customs agents and processing UK passport applications.
There will also be more money to ease traffic congestion in Kent and tackle queues created by delays at the border.
Remind yourself of the Brexit basics with:
If that proved to be insufficient, a disused airfield near Ramsgate would be used as a lorry park, and if further capacity was still required, the M26 could also be used.
Kent County Council says it has employed extra staff and stockpiled supplies in preparation for six months of disruption in the event of no deal.
10. UK students studying in the EU and EU students studying in the UK face a period of uncertainty
More than 16,000 British students studied on placements organised by the Erasmus study abroad scheme - in place since the 1980s - in 2016-17.
UK universities say they would expect a similar number to be planning to do the same this coming academic year.
The government is committed to funding everything already agreed, so people who have already started Erasmus trips will be able to continue them.
But if the UK leaves the EU without a deal before the exchanges for the next academic year have been finalised, then the government would need European agreement to keep taking part.
It has issued a technical note explaining this.
That is true for both UK students planning to go to EU countries, and EU nationals hoping to come to the UK.
Meanwhile, Universities UK has launched a campaign supporting opportunities for studying abroad.
What will happen to the Erasmus scheme after Brexit?
With under 60 days to go until Rugby World Cup 2019 kicks off in Japan, tickets destined for international fans began shipping on Thursday from the DHL Express Tokyo Gateway.
This significant milestone was marked with a symbolic ticket dispatch ceremony in which the very first batch of tickets were officially passed from the Rugby World Cup 2019 Organising Committee to DHL for onward distribution around the globe.
With around 33 per cent of Rugby World Cup 2019 tickets destined for international fans, the ceremony marks the beginning of a process that will see hundreds of thousands of tickets shipped to fans in more than 170 countries worldwide.
As Rugby World Cup 2019 tickets began their global journey, Thursday also saw the announcement of the forthcoming dates for sales of the remaining tickets. The current sales period, open since 18 May, will finish at 23:30 Japan Standard Time (JST) on Wednesday, 24 July. Remaining ticket inventory will then be available for a final general sales phase set to begin at 18:00 JST on Saturday, 10 August at www.rugbyworldcup.com/tickets.
These tickets will be a mixture of seats released from ongoing venue planning and configuration and hand-backs from the tournament's commercial programme and unions, and tickets that have been registered for official resale by fans who can no longer attend matches.
Japan Rugby World Cup 2019 Organising Committee CEO Akira Shimazu said: “Today marked another major milestone in the Rugby World Cup 2019 journey. The sense of excitement and expectation I experienced today will be replicated hundreds of thousands of times across the world in the coming weeks, as fans in more than 170 countries receive their Rugby World Cup tickets.
“For overseas fans still contemplating coming Japan, I cannot encourage you strongly enough to take this opportunity to secure tickets for what promises to be a truly memorable Rugby World Cup. The entire country is getting swept up in Rugby World Cup fever and our 12 host cities are ready to offer an incredibly special and unique welcome. No matter which match you attend, I can assure that you will have an experience of a lifetime.”
The stunning Rugby World Cup 2019 ticket designs revealed last month at the Tokyo launch event have proved extremely popular with both Japanese and international fans alike. With Rugby World Cup match tickets often kept by fans as a treasured memento, demand for printed tickets has been typically strong. The deadline for fans looking to secure printed tickets will be Wednesday, 24 July when the current sales phase ends. Any tickets sold beyond this date will be available in self-print, e-ticket format only.
With demand for tickets likely to remain incredibly high and ticket availability expected to be tight across most tournament matches, fans are encouraged not to hesitate in purchasing tickets they find available during this next sales period.
Another option for fans looking to secure specific match tickets is through the Rugby World Cup 2019 Official Supporter Tour and Hospitality programmes. Ticket-inclusive travel packages provided through RWC 2019 official travel agents are proving extremely popular, with tickets for some of the most popular matches still available. The prestigious Webb Ellis Suite and private hospitality suites are already sold out, however some great match-day hospitality options are still available. Further details can be found via
www.rugbyworldcup.com/supportertours and www.rugbyworldcup.com/hospitality.
When purchasing tickets, fans will be able to opt-in and donate to the ChildFund Pass It Back programme. In partnership with World Rugby’s Impact Beyond programme, Pass It Back inspires positive social change through the delivery of an integrated life-skills and non-contact tag rugby curriculum, educating children and young people in areas of leadership, problem-solving, gender equality, conflict resolution and life preparation. For more details visit www.childfundpassitback.org.
With such exceptional demand for tickets, fans are being urged to buy exclusively from official channels to avoid being let down. For more details visit www.rugbyworldcup.com/buy-official.
Mastercard is an official partner and the preferred payment card of Rugby World Cup 2019 and will be offering fans a range of Priceless experiences around RWC 2019.
THIS WEEK, AMAZON will celebrate Prime Day, a bacchanal of modestly discounted ephemera. But amid the flurry of cheap TVs and ebooks and what else, maybe Instant Pots? Watch out for this clever phishing campaign that might hit your inbox.
Researchers from security company McAfee today have shared details of a so-called phishing kit, which contains the tools an aspiring hacker would need to kick off a phishing campaign, designed to target Amazon customers. While McAfee discovered this particular kit in May, it appears to be a spinoff of one that had targeted Apple users in the US and Japan last November. The kit is called 16Shop; its author goes by the handle DevilScreaM.
In both the Apple and Amazon campaigns, 16Shop makes it easy for anyone to craft an email that looks like it comes from a major tech company, with a PDF attached. That PDF contains links to malicious sites that have been gussied up to look like, in this most recent case, an Amazon log-in page. Anyone who falls for it will have given up the keys to their Amazon account, and any other service for which they reuse that same password. As with the previous Apple campaign, those links direct victims to a page that requests not just their name but also their birthday, home address, credit card info, and Social Security number.
“The use of major brands looks to leverage the subconscious lever of authority to invoke user interaction,” says McAfee chief scientist Raj Samani.
All of this is typical of a phishing campaign, and in fact less sophisticated than the more targeted spearphishing attacks that regularly strike high-value targets. Its significance, though, lies in the timing. With Prime Day fast approaching—bringing with it a barrage of legitimate deals emails from Amazon—the sharks are circling.
“Cybercriminals take advantage of popular, highly visible events when consumers are expecting an increased frequency of emails, when their malicious emails can hide more easily in the clutter,” says Crane Hassold, threat intelligence manager at the digital fraud defense firm Agari. “Consumers are also more conditioned to receiving marketing or advertisement emails during certain times of the year—Black Friday, Christmas, Memorial Day—and cybercriminals format their attack lures accordingly to increase the chances of success.”
At the very least, interest around the Amazon phishing kit appears high. McAfee says that DevilScreaM set up a Facebook group to sell licenses and provide product support—like any good software startup—nearly two years ago. By November 2018, the group had 200 members. As of last month, it had topped 300 members and 200 posts. And McAfee has identified over 200 malicious URLs—that start deceptively with verification-amazonaccess, verification-amaz0n, and so on—associated with the phishing kit. It’s unclear how many people have actually fallen for the ruse, but fair to say that business is bustling.
McAfee notified Facebook that the 16Shop group exists, but as of Thursday night the social network had not yet taken it down. Facebook did not return a request for comment.
The good news is, the Amazon scam spree doesn’t appear uniquely clever, which means the usual rules for protecting yourself apply. Make sure that email comes from who it claims; in Gmail you can double check by clicking on the downward arrow next to your name. Don’t open attachments unless you’re sure it’s from someone you trust. Similarly, don’t type your information into a website that’s not legit, which means taking a close look at that URL. (The green lock in the URL bar, sadly, just means your data is encrypted in transit, not that it’s headed somewhere safe.) Get a password manager, to limit the fallout if you do accidentally cough up your log-in details. And don’t trust a deal that seems too good to be true—even on Prime Day.
By Logan Baker
Capturing and maintaining a dog’s attention during a shoot could just be the hardest thing a photographer can do. Here are a few tips to help out.
Whether you’re working a gig or shooting in your own living room, photographing dogs is challenging. They’re always curious about everything around them, they’re easily distracted, and they don’t trust strangers. But, there are a few different ways you can earn their trust, take the photo, and nail exposure and focus.
See the full article HERE
Two things are true about digital marketing;
The North Face just violated both principles in the name of a marketing stunt that failed miserably. The company hired famed ad agency Leo Burnett Tailor Made to replace photos of famous locations around the world, with images of those locations that contained clothing from the company.
In short, the company did the one thing no marketer should ever do. It cheated.
The idea was that customers usually start their trip planning by searching for information using Google. By replacing the images on Wikipedia, The North Face was able to take advantage of the fact that images from the site often appear at the top of search results.
That meant that the company's products would appear, reinforcing its position as a premier outdoor brand.
There are no shortcuts.
Here's the problem. You can't shortcut your way to customer affection for your brand. Appearing at the top of Google search results is great, but when you cheat to do it, it doesn't build customer affection, it just makes people mad. They feel cheated.
To make matters worse, the company even bragged about their guerrilla marketing tactics in a video posted online, saying "we switched the Wikipedia photos for ours." The company also claimed to "hack the results and to reach one of the most difficult place: the top of the world's largest search engine."
Finally, the company boasted that it "paid absolutely nothing just by collaborating with Wikipedia." which leads to another problem. It's not true.
Wikipedia says there was no such collaboration. In fact, a statement from the Wikimedia Foundation states that "Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation did not collaborate on this stunt, as The North Face falsely claims. In fact, what they did was akin to defacing public property, which is a surprising direction from The North Face."
Transparency and authenticity matter.
Look, you can't lie. You just can't.
Marketers often get a bad reputation for shading the truth or presenting things in the most favorable light, but The North Face went even further than that. They gamed a system that depends on the trust of everyone involved.
In a world of "fake news," people aren't interested in the brands they love trying to pull one over on them. Which is what The North Face tried to do. They tried to make it look like their brand was organically associated with all of these amazing outdoor locations, when in fact it was all staged.
It doesn't matter how much attention you can generate for your brand if people don't trust you. When you try to take shortcuts or cheat, the trust you built over time fades in a moment. When you try to fake your way to the top of Google search results, you end up at the bottom of the trust barrel.
Enterprise IT needs to rethink the scope of the cloud-first mindset.
I'm a proud advocate of cloud computing. I believe it's a great way to offload unnecessary technical burden from IT staff, create flexibility, and streamline processes. But when I hear people talking about using a "cloud-first" approach, it gives me pause. While this architectural strategy is almost certainly discussed with the greatest intentions, it has the potential to send IT projects and upgrades down the wrong implementation path.
So first, we need to discuss what a "cloud-first" strategy is -- and how it's often being misconstrued. The idea behind a “cloud-first” approach is that when any new IT project, refresh or replacement crops up, our first instinct should be to think about how the technology could be spun up and managed within a cloud service provider's network. This is completely fine. It was also a mindset that likely was a worthwhile mantra a few years ago. But it’s not necessary today. My argument is that most enterprise organizations have already accepted and adopted cloud computing. Therefore, continuing to use a "cloud-first" mindset is not only unnecessary, it could be considered counter-productive.
In many companies, a "cloud-first" approach has morphed into a "cloud-only” approach. In other words, by focusing solely on the cloud, many IT decision makers ignore the alternatives, such as on-premises deployments. It may be that an on-premises deployment is the better choice. In the past, I've written about reasons for keeping data in-house. While some of the reasons I pointed out in 2015 may be weaker in 2017, most still hold water.
A great example of an IT project in 2017 that should be given equal consideration for an on-premises deployment vs. a cloud deployment would be the Internet of Things (IoT). While the cloud holds clear advantages in terms of scalability and lower capitol expenditures, an in-house deployment offers improved control in terms of data storage, latency, and a better overall understanding of how the entire IoT process works from the ground up. In many cases, the ideal situation for IoT may be to start on-premises with pilot projects -- then expand out to the cloud using a hybrid architecture. That way, you gain the benefits of both architectures. Yet, with a "cloud-first" thought process, any on-premises considerations may never be considered.
Another example of a project where you may want to look at both deployment options – or a hybrid approach -- is infrastructure security. While there is enormous growth in cloud-based security tools, the actual benefits gained from cloud-managed solutions depends largely on your current infrastructure. If most infrastructure remains on-premises, that’s where your security belongs as well. Traffic flows should be reviewed to determine if cloud-based security tools such as firewalls, intrusion prevention, and anti-malware will be preferable in-house or out in the cloud.
There may very well come a time where a “cloud-only” architecture approach is the right mindset. But, it’s important to note that there are still completely valid pro/con conversations that need to occur before a decision is made on the right implementation approach. Therefore, the calls for a “cloud-first” mindset are somewhat premature for most enterprise organizations. Instead, take a step back, remain open minded, and choose the right architectural approach based on all available options.
Andrew has well over a decade of enterprise networking under his belt through his consulting practice, which specializes in enterprise network architectures and datacenter build-outs and prior experience at organizations such as State Farm Insurance, United Airlines and the ... View Full Bio
By Malak Saleh Editorial intern, Inc.com
Last month, during Austin's SXSW festival, Inc. brought together a host of high-profile business executives and innovative entrepreneurs at the Founders House. Naturally, it was a group that was highly experienced and savvy in the art of networking. Some of the luminaries in attendance passed on their best tips for making connections at such events or anywhere you're trying to meet potential business partners and develop new opportunities. Here are their five key lessons.
1. Do your homework before formally networking.
Get to know the person you plan on talking to in advance. By doing thorough research, you should gain a rough idea of how you can appeal to that contact, says Elizabeth Gore, the president of Alice, an A.I.-based adviser for business owners. But professional relationships should benefit both parties. "Really think about that two-way connection," Gore advises. When you approach someone, know what you can offer that person to make the interaction more memorable, authentic, and distinct.
2. Adhere to the '48-hour rule.'
After a business meeting or conference, or even just a quick chat over coffee, Gore says, it's crucial to follow up within a short time frame. Once she parts ways with a potential professional contact, she puts a reminder in her calendar to check back within 48 hours. Getting in touch any later than two days after meeting someone can give the impression that you don't care about the new relationship or the subject you discussed with your new contact.
3. Be cutthroat in what you want.
Cindy Eckert, founder and CEO of the Pink Ceiling, a venture capital fund that invests in female-led businesses, preaches the value of persistence. She advises being upfront and tenacious in letting people know what you are out to accomplish--an approach that served her well on her path to entrepreneurial success. "You have to be convinced that you would be doing the other person a disservice by not telling them what you're trying to do and how you're trying to change the game," says Eckert, who has sold two pharmaceutical companies for a total of $1.5 billion. "That is the mark of a true entrepreneur. They're so determined that everybody will hear their vision."
4. Don't ask this question.
Never ask somebody what he or she does immediately upon meeting that person, says Stephen Lease, the founder and CEO of sunglasses startup Goodr: "That is the lamest way to network possible." Being authentic is key--which means skipping the small talk. The best professionals will approach a networking opportunity with fresh questions. Find a conversation topic to connect on, Lease says. Once you hit on something that can bond you with a prospective contact, you have better odds when it comes to asking that person for a favor.
Bonus tip: If your company sells a product, like sunglasses, always have a sample on you to give away when you meet someone, he adds. That's how you leave a lasting impression.
5. Carry yourself with a cool confidence.
"A good $50 to $100 million of our cap table came from random introductions," says Chieh Huang, the co-founder and CEO of Boxed, an e-commerce company. Huang says it all comes down to being confident. "Go up to folks whether you know that they can help you or not," he says. Greet them and ask them what they are talking about. "In my entire professional career, I've never gone up to a group of folks and asked that question and been rejected."
(Source: AP News)
The World Health Organization has issued its first-ever set of guidelines for how much screen time children under the age of five should get: not very much and none at all for those under one.
The UN health agency said kids under five should not spend more than one hour watching screens — and that less is better. The guidelines are somewhat similar to advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics. That group recommends children younger than 18 months should avoid screens other than video chats. It says parents of young children under two should choose “high-quality programming” with educational value and that can be watched with a parent to help kids understand what they’re seeing.
What about screen time benefits? Some groups said WHO’s screen time guidelines fail to consider the potential benefits of digital media.
Britain’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said the data available was too weak to allow its experts to set any thresholds for the appropriate level of screen time. “Our research has shown that currently there is not strong enough evidence to support the setting of screen time limits,” said Dr. Max Davie, the college’s Officer for Health Improvement. That may be true, but guidelines could also prevent the iPhone apocalypse and keep teenagers from becoming screenagers.
WHO did not specifically detail the potential harm caused by too much screen time, but said the guidelines — which also included recommendations for physical activity and sleep — were needed to address the increasing amount of sedentary behavior in the general population. It noted that physical inactivity is a leading risk factor for death and a contributor to the rise in obesity.
The agency said infants less than 1 year should spend at least half an hour every day on their stomachs and that older kids should get at least three hours of physical activity every day.
Mention McDonald’s to someone today, and they're more likely to think about Big Mac than Big Data. But that could soon change: The fast-food giant has embraced machine learning, in a fittingly super-sized way.
McDonald’s is set to announce that it has reached an agreement to acquire Dynamic Yield, a startup based in Tel Aviv that provides retailers with algorithmically driven "decision logic" technology. When you add an item to an online shopping cart, it’s the tech that nudges you about what other customers bought as well. Dynamic Yield reportedly had been recently valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars; people familiar with the details of the McDonald’s offer put it at over $300 million. That would make it the company's largest purchase since it acquired Boston Market in 1999.
The burger giant can certainly afford it; in 2018 alone it tallied nearly $6 billion of net income, and ended the year with a free cash flow of $4.2 billion. But that still doesn’t address the bigger question of why. For that, you have to head to the drive-thru.
McDonald’s serves around 68 million customers every single day. The majority of those people never get out of their car, opting instead to place and pick up their orders at the drive-thru window. And that’s where McDonald’s will deploy Dynamic Yield first.
Over the last several years, you may have noticed that the displays as you approach the McDonald’s drive-through—and inside the restaurant, for that matter—have gone digital. That’s just one of several significant, data-focused investments that both McDonald’s and its franchisees have made since CEO Steve Easterbrook took the helm in 2015. The company also launched an app and partnered with Uber Eats in that time, in addition to making a number of infrastructure improvements. It even relocated its headquarters less than a year ago from the suburbs to Chicago’s vibrant West Town neighborhood, in a bid to attract young talent.
Look at the Dynamic Yield acquisition, then, not as the start of a digital transformation, but as the catalyst that evolves it.
“What we hadn’t done is begun to connect the technology together, and get the various pieces talking to each other,” says Easterbrook, in an exclusive interview with WIRED. “How do you transition from mass marketing to mass personalization? To do that, you’ve really got to unlock the data within that ecosystem in a way that’s useful to a customer.”
Here’s what that looks like in practice: When you drive up to place your order at a McDonald’s today, a digital display greets you with a handful of banner items or promotions. As you inch up toward the ordering area, you eventually get to the full menu. Both of these, as currently implemented, are largely static, aside from the obvious changes like rotating in new offers, or switching over from breakfast to lunch.
But in a pilot program at a McDonald’s restaurant in Miami, powered by Dynamic Yield, those displays have taken on new dexterity. Algorithms crunch data as diverse as the weather, time of day, local traffic, nearby events, and of course historical sales data, both at that specific franchise and around the world. In the new McDonald’s machine-learning paradigm, significant display real estate goes toward showing customers what other items have been popular at that location, and prompting them with potential upsells. Thanks for your Happy Meal order; maybe you’d like a Sprite to go with it.
“We’ve never had an issue in this business with a lack of data,” says Easterbrook. “It’s drawing the insight and the intelligence out of it.”
McDonald’s was reticent to share any specific insights gleaned so far, or numbers around the personalization engine’s effect on sales. But it’s not hard to imagine some of the possible scenarios. If someone orders two Happy Meals at 5 o’clock, for instance, that’s probably a parent ordering for their kids; highlight a coffee or snack for them, and they might decide to treat themselves to a pick-me-up. And as with any machine-learning system, the real benefits will likely come from the unexpected.
“When you look at the answers that this decision engine provides, it may not seem so obvious to begin with, but for customers it makes sense. It’s not just about the individual, it’s also taking training information from other customers,” says Daniel Henry, McDonald’s executive vice president and global chief information officer. “It’s only going to get smarter and smarter, the more customers interact with it.”
McDonald’s defines those customer benefits broadly. Multiple executives noted that if the drive-thru is moving slowly, the menu can dynamically switch to show items that are simpler to prepare, to help speed things up. Likewise, the display could highlight more complex sandwiches during a slower period. And as with any online checkout experience, it’s unlikely that the drive-thru window will tell you that you’ve actually ordered too much. While customer satisfaction may be the goal, the avenues McDonald’s takes to get there will increase revenues along the way.
Think also beyond the store itself. A company that amasses as much data as McDonald’s will find no shortage of algorithmic avenues. “Ultimately you can see we’ll be able to use predictive analytics—we’re going to have real-time information, as we start to connect the kitchen together—further back through our supply chain. I’m sure that will happen,” says Easterbrook. “That isn’t part of this particular technology, but as you start to link the predictive nature of customer demand all the way through your stock levels in the restaurant and the kitchen, you can almost flex it back down through the supply chain." He notes that McDonald’s is a high-volume, low-margin business; anything that helps cut down on waste makes a big difference.
And given the scale at which it operates, any supply chain shifts at McDonald's tend to ripple throughout the entire food industry. Which gives you a sense of just how transformative this acquisition could be.
Personal TouchAs you might have guessed, McDonald’s didn’t spend over $300 million on a machine-learning company just to juice its drive-thru.
Henry says he expects to see the technology in 1,000 locations within the next three months, eventually rolling out to the company’s 14,000 US restaurants and beyond. You can also expect McDonald’s to integrate its new machine-learning smarts not just broadly but deeply, albeit at a measured pace.
“Like anything else, we’re going to see that this has a capability for in-store kiosks, it has a capability for kitchens, for mobile order and pay,” says Henry. “If we try to do that at once, we may lose focus. And we need to stay focused.”
An important part of that focus is figuring out how to leverage the “personalization” part of a personalization engine. Fine-tuned insights at the store level are one thing, but Easterbrook envisions something even more granular. “If customers are willing to identify themselves—there’s all sorts of ways you can do that—we can be even more useful to them, because now we call up their favorites,” according to Easterbrook, who stresses that privacy is paramount.
As for what form that might ultimately take, Easterbrook raises a handful of possibilities. McDonald’s already uses geofencing around its stores to know when a mobile app customer is approaching and prepare their order accordingly. Easterbrook suggests you could extend that, in a strictly opt-in capacity, to the smartphone itself, using a sort of beacon technology. Or, he says, license plate recognition could let the system identify a specific customer as they approach, and adjust the digital menu accordingly based on their purchase history.
Consumer appetite for that sort of tracking remains to be seen, especially when awareness of the value and sensitivity of personal data has reached new heights. “We will be very sensitive as we learn, as we go forward,” says Easterbrook. “I think over time it’s going to be important to demonstrate that we can offer value back for customers willing to open themselves up to us.”
High YieldAnd then there’s Dynamic Yield. Founded in 2011, the company has headquarters in New York as well as Tel Aviv, and a healthy roster of blue-chip retail clients, including Ikea, Sephora, and Urban Outfitters. It will remain independently run even after the acquisition, and plans to continue growing its business outside of the Golden Arches’ shadow.
“We’re going to still stay scrappy,” says Dynamic Yield cofounder and CEO Liad Agmon. “I think that our customers will benefit from it in many ways. One is you remove the startup risk from the table. We don’t have to seek funding any longer, and we can focus on innovation. Also the risk of Dynamic Yield being swallowed into some legacy software play is out of the question.”
McDonald’s vetted around 30 firms offering similar personalization engine services, and landed on Dynamic Yield after proving out the technology in the Miami pilot. “It’s probably less about the product and more about the data scientists that come with it, the people that come with it, and their ability to move quickly with us,” says Henry.
Dynamic Yield essentially adds a personalization layer to the McDonald’s technology stack. The software that powers the display makes an API call with each order, and Dynamic Yield returns the results. That seamlessness has the added benefit of requiring little additional investment from McDonald’s franchisees to implement. The expensive part was the digital signs themselves.
The prospect of taking on 68 million fast-food customers a day doesn’t bother Agmon, who notes that McDonald’s won’t put much stress on the system compared with the world of online shopping, which operates on a much larger scale in terms of both orders and items to sort through. The tie-up does, though, underscore just how blurred the lines between the physical and digital worlds have become.
“If you think about how people shop a physical store and how they shop in an online store, they shop differently,” says Agmon. “But the same types of insights you get from the physical store you would apply to online. And the online store, with the data you get, you can apply it to different merchandizing in the physical store. I see it really as part of a continuum, and not as two separate experiences.”
Which helps explain why McDonald’s has made a tech company by far its most substantial acquisition in two decades. You’ve seen decision logic at work every time you shop online; now it'll buttress your Extra Value Meal.
“We’re a really straightforward business. People only come to us if they want something to eat, or something to drink,” says Easterbrook. “We’re not in the business of using technology to try to change people’s lives.”
When we needlessly apologize, we end up making ourselves small and diminish what we’re trying to express, says sociologist Maja Jovanovic.
Think about all the times you use the word “sorry” in a typical day.
There are the necessary “sorry”s — when you bump into someone, when you need to cancel plans with a friend. But what about the unnecessary “sorry”s? The “sorry, this may be an obvious idea” at a meeting, the “sorry to cause trouble” when rescheduling a haircut, the “sorry, there’s a spill in the dairy aisle” at the supermarket.
Canadian sociologist Maja Jovanovic believes the “sorry”s we sprinkle through our days hurt us.
They make us appear smaller and more timid than we really are, and they can undercut our confidence.
Jovanovic, who teaches at McMaster University and Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario, became interested in this topic when she attended a conference four years ago. The four women on a panel were, she says, “experts in their chosen fields. Among them, they had published hundreds of academic articles, dozens of books. All they had to do was introduce themselves. The first woman takes a microphone and she goes, ‘I don’t know what I could possibly add to this discussion’ … The second woman takes the microphone and says, ‘Oh my gosh, I thought they sent the email to the wrong person. I’m just so humbled to be here.’” The third and fourth women did the same thing.
During the 25 panels at that week-long conference, recalls Jovanovic, “not once did I hear a man take that microphone and discount his accomplishments or minimize his experience. Yet every single time a woman took a microphone, an apologetic tone was sure to follow.” She adds, “I found it enraging; I also found it heartbreaking.”
Jovanovic found the outside world not so different: “Apologies have become our habitual way of communicating,” she says. Since then, she’s collected needless apologies from her colleagues and students. One stand-out? “My research assistant said ‘Sorry’ to the pizza delivery guy for his being late to her house,” says Jovanovic. “She said, ‘Oh my gosh, we live in a new subdevelopment. I’m so sorry. Did you have trouble finding this place?’”
We can eliminate the “sorry”s from our sentences — and still be considerate.
“The next time you bump into someone,” Jovanovic says, “you could say, ‘Go ahead,’ ‘After you’ or ‘Pardon me.’” Similarly, during a meeting, Jovanovic says, “instead of saying, ‘Sorry to interrupt you,’ why not try ‘How about,’ ‘I have an idea,’ ‘I’d like to add’ or ‘Why don’t we try this?’” The idea is to be polite while not minimizing yourself.
The “sorry”s that fill our written interactions also need to be noticed — and banished. For emails, Jovanovic says, “There’s a Google Chrome plug-in called ‘just not sorry’ that will alert you to all the needless apologies.” With texts, she points out, “Every single one of us has responded to a text you got when you weren’t able to respond right away. What did you say? ‘Sorry.’” She says, “Don’t apologize — say, ‘I was working,’ ‘I was reading,’ ‘I was driving, ‘I was trying to put on Spanx.’ Whatever it is, it’s all good. You don’t have to apologize.”
And, in some of the instances when we’d typically throw in a “sorry,” we could just use the two magic words: “thank you.”
Jovanovic tells of the moment when she realized the effectiveness of gratitude. She says, “Four of us were at a restaurant for a work meeting, and we’re waiting for number five to arrive … I put my sociological cap on, and I thought, ‘What would he say? How many apologies will he give?’ I could barely stand the anticipation. He arrives at the restaurant, and you know what he says? ‘Hey, thanks for waiting.’ … The rest of us said, “Yeah, you’re welcome,” and we all just opened our menus and ordered. Life went on, and everything was fine.”
Another time when “thank you” can work better than “sorry”? When you’re with a friend and you realize you’ve been doing all the talking. Jovanovic says, “instead of saying, ‘Sorry for complaining’ or ‘Sorry for venting,’ you could just say, ‘Thank you for listening,’ ‘Thank you for being there’ or ‘Thank you for being my friend.’”
Besides removing them from our own communications, we should tell other people when they’re overdoing their “sorry”s, suggests Jovanovic.
You can start with your family and friends — and if you’d like, go beyond them. She says, “I have been interrupting these apologies for three years now. I’ll do it everywhere. I’ll do it in the parking lot, I’ll do it to total strangers at the grocery store, in line somewhere. One hundred percent of the time when I interrupt another woman and I say, ‘Why did you just say ‘sorry’ for that?’ she’ll say to me, ‘I don’t know.’”