If Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around as a concept for 50 years, why is it only becoming prominent now? According to Complexica’s CEO, Matt Michalewicz, the two key drivers have been improvements in business and technology. Businesses have more digitalised processes than in the past, and this has assisted the growth of AI. Technologically, computer power has become cheaper, and the data to train AI is readily available with the explosion of the internet. The capabilities and algorithms of AI have improved to incorporate ‘deep learning’; considering what consumers see and what they say using their natural language, to recognise patterns in how they think. AI and machine learning automates analysis. It makes assumptions, assesses models and re-evaluates data to provide detailed predictions at speed and scale, without human intervention. It learns from itself, with predictions becoming increasingly accurate and more specific over time.
Matt Michalewicz sees the natural areas of AI application to retail as being areas of complexity and high value. These include customer communications personalisation, promotional planning, price optimisation, demand planning and forecasting, and optimising in-store inventory. Rod Pritchard provided an example of how ALM is applying AI. ALM’s retail network numbers 2,700 stores, 1,600 of which are aligned to banners and 1,300 of whom contribute sales data. ALM also has scan data along with other data sources and was finding the challenge not to be an absence of data but rather making meaning of the data already available. .
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