Software is “Eating” up the World, Part II

The Whopper Stack and why Facebook Messenger adds to new secret sauce

Over last few months, my team and I have embarked on an exciting new journey: taking a traditionally offline company and turning it digital. The company is Restaurant Brands International Inc (RBI), owner of Burger King and Tim Hortons brands, and we aim to bring a product technology mindset to serving our guests in the quick service restaurant industry worldwide — a $500+ billion global market.

When I shared that we were joining RBI, I discussed Marc Andreessen’s view that “software is eating up the world” — the idea that the most dominant companies of future will be those that are digitally-driven. For us to meet this objective, we not only need to build powerful new products, but also infuse our startup mindset, making sure our company’s internal rate of change is faster than that of external world.

The winners in the restaurant industry will be determined by whatever company best uses software to give guests what they want — to be engaged in an authentic way through technology. There are already more than 3 billion Internet users and 5 billion users of mobile phones. Guests are Internet-enabled and mobile-first, and they expect to use their phones to do everything — including engaging with the brands they love.

Over last few months, we have started building some really exciting products and core components of a technology platform to bring these products to life. For fun, let’s illustrate this platform ‘on-brand’ as a Whopper Stack.

The stack contains five layers.

1. The Transaction layer enables exchange of money for goods using various payment solutions from gift cards to credit cards using multiple currencies.

2. Personalization layer delivers a custom user experience so we can deliver on our goal to ‘have it your way.’

3. Brand layer delivers same authentic experience that’s consistent with what our guests expect from us in physical world.

4. Location layer refers to Point of Sale (POS) software and other technology located at a physical storefront that needs to be seamlessly integrated end-to-end.

5. Client layer is interface for guests to interact with functionality, including kiosk, website, mobile app (iOS/Android), order aggregators/delivery services, messaging services, and any other interfaces our guests want — and that’s what i’m excited to share today.

Just as we locate physical storefronts to be most convenient for our guests on their way to work or home, we are creating digital touch points that are client agnostic so we enable current user behaviors that enable guests to engage with us anyway they want. And one of most dominant existing user behaviors on mobile is with messaging and in particular Facebook Messenger.

Messenger has 900+ million users, approximately 2.5 billion people have registered to use at least one messaging app (according to Activate), and text messaging is most frequently used of all smartphone features (according to Pew Internet study).

That’s why I’m so excited to announce that RBI has been working with Facebook leading up to today’s launch of Messenger Platform, which allows our brands — Burger King and Tim Hortons — to interact with our guests where they are, when they need us, in the most natural conversational way. For our brands, the ability to build new automated capabilities like bots on the Messenger Platform will make it easier than ever to interact with people in engaging new ways.

You can use Messenger to book a flight, request an Uber, and later this year, we will begin releasing our bot on Messenger, which will at some point provide a whole new way to order a Whopper and all your other favorite Burger King food — all without leaving Messenger. Check out a sneak peak of an early version demo here that’s a work-in-progress:

We’re proud to be involved with the Messenger team to help speak to consumers the way they want to be spoken to and enable current messaging behavior. We look forward to building experiences that are authentic to our brands and that are engaging for our guests. This is fun stuff!

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Disclosure: Given nature of my work, I’m involved on Burger King® brand digital matters