The very near future of AI and automation in retail

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Artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionize the retail industry, but how are retailers using it today and where is it going? To dig deeper into those questions, IBM’s Institute for Business Value partnered with NRF to survey 1,900 retail and consumer product leaders across 23 countries. On this episode, Chris Wong, vice president of strategy and alliances at IBM Global Consumer Industry, shares more about the study’s findings on artificial intelligence and its use in automation in retail.

Learn more:

Download the report from IBM and NRF: “The coming AI revolution in retail and consumer products.”

The study looked at the application of “intelligent automation,” primarily in the supply chain. This rapidly emerging technology is already here — and here to stay: Two in five retailers are already working with intelligent automation today, the study found, and that number is expected to double in the next two to three years.

Wong says that currently, retailers are primarily using AI to automate processes along the supply chain. With AI, retailers can start to consume huge amounts of data, see patterns and then automate the necessary actions, like rerouting trucks due to developing bad weather conditions.

AI and automation are typically used to drive efficiencies and lower costs; one thing from the study that surprised Wong is how AI is helping people make better, faster decisions — and execute them faster as well. “These [technologies] don’t just manifest in lower costs,” Wong says. “These could actually be revenue drivers.” The research showed many retailers and CPG companies thought the revenue potential for intelligent automation would be even higher than the cost savings.

To learn about more of the study’s results and other examples of how retailers are using this technology, listen to the full episode and download the report here.

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