The two words most commonly heard during the past two days of Shoptalk have undoubtedly been 'artificial intelligence,' and several sessions centered on its current and future retail applications. Here were some of the key takeaways on this hot (and oftentimes misunderstood) topic.
Three Types of Artificial Intelligence
In the keynote which (with no small sense of irony) featured three competitors, Amazon, Alibaba, and eBay, we saw some of the ways in which technology can revolutionize the customer experience. We saw, step-by-step, how Amazon Prime Now came into being (and made this waffle-lover's dreams come true), the latest AI device which eBay is launching, and how Alibaba is investing, both online and offline, into a variety of different retail formats.
But for those who were still wanting to wrap their minds around exactly what artificial intelligence is, eBay Chief Product Officer, RJ Pittman, clearly broke down AI into three distinct categories: narrow, general, and super. Where most brands and retailers are currently playing is in the narrow category, (or as IBM Watson General Manager Richard Hearn described it, 'dabbling in a science experiment'), using a limited set of known data points to optimize and personalize customer experiences with existing product offerings. For those brands and retailers looking to the next frontier of AI, they are taking in more contextual and unstructured data points to understand and predict underlying needs and deliver the right product or experience (again from existing offerings). Looking even further out, however, super artificial intelligence will tie together a world of data variables that results in a product created and customized for the customer. Pretty mind-blowing stuff, huh?
Regardless the stage of AI adoption that brands and retailers are currently at, the consensus was that the velocity of its evolution and pervasiveness will only continue. In fact, research cited that
By 2020, 85% of interactions will happen without having to engage a human
and by 2025, the AI market valuation will exceed $100B.
Swipe Left On Technology
You've probably heard us talk about it before, but technology investment, done simply for the sake of it, is simply a drain on resources that could otherwise be allocated to addressing more pressing business concerns. It can be easy to get caught up in technology's sex appeal, and what oftentimes results is that these initiatives are abandoned because they are too far removed from near-term business objectives.
In sessions focusing on mobile commerce and the shifts in e-commerce trends, speakers talked about how their most successful to-date AI undertakings have been practical in nature and the perfect jumping off point to get the organization focused on its future potential.
Get the latest insights from the final day of Shoptalk here.