Restaurant Brands International (RBI), the owner of Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes Louisana Kitchen, named former CFO Josh Kobza as chief technology and development officer, a new "tech czar" C-suite job that focuses on mobile ordering and other digital services, according to Bloomberg.
RBI aims to keep up with quick-service restaurant (QSR) rivals that have made mobile ordering, payment and delivery a key part of their growth plans. Kobza will oversee digital programs at RBI's three brands. CEO Daniel Schwartz aims to update the chains with technologies that are transforming the industry.
Tim Hortons introduced a mobile ordering app last year. Burger King's app doesn't let people pay for orders yet, and the burger chain is testing out digital-ordering kiosks in restaurants. Popeyes doesn't have a uniform payment system at its more than 2,800 locations, Bloomberg said.
Mobile-based technologies are becoming a key way for fast-food chains to differentiate their services from competitors, especially with younger consumers who are more comfortable with using smartphones for ordering. QSR restaurants also face growing competition from fast-casual chains like Panera Bread and Chipotle Mexican Grille that focus on fresher, higher-quality ingredients.
McDonald's, Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts and Domino's Pizza have all recently upgraded their mobile apps and offered new services to appeal to customers who want to pick up orders without waiting in line or to request delivery. Mobile apps also offer a way for restaurants to maintain relationships with customers by offering them coupons and rewards for loyalty.
McDonald's, Burger King's main competitor, last year made a big push into mobile ordering and payments for all 14,000 of its U.S. restaurants, and started offering delivery services in a partnership with Uber Eats. It's also attempting to considerably revamp its in-store technology via new offerings like digital kiosks, a strategy that's also been enacted by Subway. With Kozba's pivot to the new role, Burger King appears to closely be following suit.