AI-powered intelligent automation is revolutionising retail and consumer products

Procurement and supply chain practitioners in the retail and consumer goods sectors have led the…...

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Procurement and supply chain practitioners in the retail and consumer goods sectors have led the way with AI-powered innovations to develop new ‘intelligent automation’ capabilities with the potential to drive revenue growth upwards by 10% a year, according to a new survey from IBM’s Institute for Business Value and the National Retail Federation.

The survey defines intelligent optimisation as the convergence of people, processes, automation, and Artificial Intelligence. With a new generation of tech-savvy customers expecting easy-to-use omnichannel access to brands morning, noon, and night, retailers and manufacturers have worked to develop unrivalled experiential design across many interfaces. They have also been working to keep customer loyalty with efficient, fast, ‘cognitive’ (AI-powered) automated services that remain both transparent and secure.

The survey polled 1,900 retail and consumer products leaders based in 23 countries and revealed that:

  • 79% of consumer products and 85% of retail firms expect to be planning their supply chains with intelligent optimisation technology by 2021.
  • 79% of companies in both sectors plan to use intelligent automation for customer intelligence by 2021.
  • Executives in both sectors forecast that intelligent optimisation capabilities have the potential to boost revenue growth by as much as 10% per year.

Addressing the implications for ethical supply relationship management, IBM’s global MD of consumer industries, Luq Niazi, said: “Throughout the entire value chain and operational infrastructure of B2B and B2C commerce, there has already been an increased adoption and demand for Intelligent Automation. This also brings forth the need for stronger transparency, ethical practices and business prioritization to evaluate and deploy AI responsibility.”

Mark Mathews, VP of Research Development and Industry Analysis at the National Retail Federation, said that new technology was delivering novel ways to shop both online and in-store, as well as opening new careers for employees. AI technologies, he added, were reducing shipping costs, enhancing supply chain efficiency, personalising shopping experiences, and helping workers to acquire valuable new-generation technology skills.

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