So, you’ve got your analytics environment set up nicely for your business. You have hindsight into what has happened, some understanding as to why it might have happened, and some pretty good predictive—and maybe even prescriptive—capabilities. Those insights are driving better decisions and helping you make your operations more efficient. But, do you have some sort of artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities built into your analytics infrastructure? If not, you’re in the same boat with most companies, but that boat is quickly sinking.
Leading companies have begun to realize that AI is the technology that will take their analytics to the next, very powerful, level and revolutionize their business. Artificial intelligence—in the way I’m using it here—can also be used synonymously with cognitive computing (CC). While there’s really no agreed-on definition of CC, I define it as hardware and/or software that simulates human thinking. AI/CC has three characteristics:
- It learns as information changes—even in real time.
- It can understand data in contextual terms, and it can help you interact—or can interact on its own—with users, using that contextual information.
- It is curious. It remembers previous events and asks questions, returns answers, and makes recommendations based on those events.
The Power of Intelligence
AI/CC brings tremendous, transformative power to those companies that embed it into their analytics infrastructures.
AI changes how you operate
With AI/CC you can transform your traditional supply chain into a digital supply network (DSN) that is connected, smart, scalable, and flexible. You can use that intelligence to drive coordinated planning, 24/7 connections with suppliers and customers, smart production models, and dynamic logistics operations that can help you adjust quickly, as your needs change.
DSNs are highly-adaptable, interwoven—almost organic—ecosystems that help you optimize your production processes and supplier relationships. They help you maximize the value of every step in your product and work flow to deliver the right products to the right people, at the right time.
AI helps you get smarter
AI/CC uses information much like the human brain. It draws on experience (information, past and present) to make connections and form hypotheses. It can make recommendations based on that information—and it can adjust on the fly, based on new information it receives. Your decisions will be smarter and faster.
And what’s really transformative is that AI/CC-enabled-systems get smarter over time, as they couple the past with the present to create an environment for contextual learning that builds the future by continuously evolving and improving to deliver better long-term insights and decision-making capabilities.
AI helps you develop customer intimacy
Customers today—especially those ultra-valuable millennials—want a plethora of channels available for interaction. Yet, they also want a deeply personal—intimate—relationship with retailers and service providers. AI/CC hits the sweet spot. Chat bots—think Siri or Alexa—are revolutionizing customer service. For customer service, chat bots—even if they don’t employ voice capabilities—use AI to handle “personalized” first-line, or even secondary, contact duties, while freeing up actual humans to handle more complex customer issues.
AI/CC can also leverage previous information about customer interactions to predict current and future needs and can offer “smart” suggestions for services or offers that are individualized for particular customers. This helps you create a deeply intimate relationship with your customers that builds extreme loyalty and maximizes customer value, both now and in the future.
Welcome to Now
To be sure, AI/CC is the wave of the future, but that wave is beginning to crest. You can either ride it, or be left standing as it rolls by. I’d lay good odds that your competition is almost certainly putting AI/CC capabilities on its near-term wish list. Are you?
 Siri is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.
 Alexa is a registered trademark of Amazon.com, Inc.