SHANGHAI – Yum China Holdings Inc. announced the opening of its Digital R&D Center across three major cities in China.

Shanghai, Nanjing and Xi’an will be part of Yum China’s strategy that includes the new center, joint venturing and third part collaboration.

Some of the areas the center will focus on include artificial intelligence (AI), middle office and digital SaaS to drive end-to-end digitalization. It will also support Yum China’s in-house digital abilities.

Some examples the center will work on include improving apps, mini programs and membership programs to provide higher quality service and customer experience. Next Yum wanted to improve store operations and upgrade systems and tools for decision making in restaurants. It also wanted to optimize delivery ordering and enhance food safety in the supply chain.

"Digitalization is one of the key enablers behind Yum China's resiliency and long-term development as we move toward our next milestone of 20,000 stores," said Joey Wat, chief executive officer of Yum China Holdings. "The Digital R&D Center is an important part of our investment strategy as we apply cutting-edge technologies to digitally transform stores and drive operational excellence."

Although Yum China launched a digital program several years ago, the company feels the R&D center will give them more dedicated resources in its restaurant operations for building digital infrastructure. 

Yum said it earmarked $1 billion to $1.5 billion for this investment over the next five years. The company also plans to employ up to 500 people at the R&D center.