Social media shapes fast-food workers' jobs, too

Every job can potentially be transformed by technology, and every worker provided the tools to engage with management. Leading fast-food chain opens up tech-driven collaboration for its 1 million-plus workforce.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Social media and collaborative tools with in enterprise settings are typically associated with executive and information workers pushing data around. But a new report suggests that the jobs and responsibilities customer-service and kitchen employees in fast-food settings also can be transformed via social media.

In the process, the quality of these much-maligned jobs may be improved by a significant degree as well, as these workers are provided the tools to become more engaged with the management and direction of their employers. The other side of the coin, of course, is that even relatively low-skill jobs now require some computer expertise.

Dennis McCafferty of CIO Insight recently interviewed Dickie Oliver, vice president of Global IT for Yum! Brands (which includes KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell), who described how social media is being employed to increase quality and customer-service initiatives across the chains:

"We’re very much invested in messaging and collaboration tools at all our restaurant locations throughout the world. Our principle tool is iCHING ['i' for Internet; “CHING” is Chinese for 'relationship building.'] iCHING is a tool for employees—across multiple time zones and geographies—to share best practices and foster breakthrough thinking and innovation in every area of the company’s business. We created iCHING to allow our associates to build profiles of themselves, tag keywords to communicate their expertise and post information on our network. They create discussions and links to come up with new ways to create better products or help introduce new, successful product lines. They share tips on how to make these products as quickly and easily as possible."

The takeaway here is that there is no industry -- or pay grade -- not being touched and potentially transformed by technology. To a large degree, the fast-food industry relies on Generation Yers (teenagers and 20-somethings) that are more comfortable in the social networking space than anywhere else. Why not put all that passion to work on the job?

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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