McDonald's South Africa has implemented IBM's social business software, converging social, mobile and cloud facilitating for its expansion into new markets and enabling its employees to better communicate and collaborate.

McDonald's is working with IBM and its partner, Knowledge Dimension, to reach its almost 200 restaurants and 8,000 employees in the market. McDonald's will begin transforming into a social enterprise to help geographically dispersed employees communicate more effectively.

McDonald's entered the South African market in November 1995, initially opening 30 restaurants in 23 months. The company has since trained and employed almost 8,000 South Africans at various levels, including franchisees, restaurant managers and crew.

"With our intended aggressive expansion plans — growing by approximately 25 restaurants a year — improved communications is undoubtedly a business imperative," said Greg Solomon, managing director for McDonald's South Africa. "Equipping our employees with a social network to improve communication is critical in helping us fulfill our brand promise to customers for quality, service, cleanliness and value."

McDonald's sought out a more effective means of communication because its system in South Africa is vastly dispersed. The chain was looking for a platform that could reach every crew member.

"The company's 'Engagement with our People' initiative kick started in 2011, intended to implement processes and tools between head office, owner operators (franchisees), restaurant managers and crew (employees) to increase productivity, improve decision-making and achieve measurable business results has been hugely accelerated with this solution, giving management and staff a new way of interacting, collaborating and sharing information and expertise," said Gary Swale, director, Business Development, Knowledge Dimension.

McDonald's SA is currently using IBM Connections and IBM Sametime instant messaging software to support internal communication and training requirements across its branch network.

The McDonald's crew will access the platform via a mobile solution, supplemented by in-restaurant touchscreen docking stations. This phase is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2013.

"McDonald's decision to embrace social business is pioneering and is reflective of the need to find smarter ways of working," says Alistair Rennie, general manager, social business, IBM. "McDonald's is taking a purposeful approach, using social technologies to engage employees, empower customers and drive organizational performance to secure a competitive advantage."

IBM's agreement with McDonald's was signed in late 2012.

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