Most of us would likely agree that innovation by itself is exciting, but for me, the most compelling thing about innovation is when it enables people to make major leaps forward in a given space – be it industry sectors, sports, healthcare, etc. – overcoming a stubborn hurdle or creating a new efficiency that was just a dream in the not-so-distant past. And, though data analysis may not seem like the sexiest space in which to highlight an innovation, I feel strongly that it very well maybe one of the most critical areas where innovation has a far-reaching impact, as the ability to quickly and accurately analyze data is becoming more key to most areas of our lives.
From data and insights to intelligence and actions
Currently, retail professionals need help in finding the right answers, solving complex problems, and making more intelligent decisions. Not only do they need this help, they need it fast. In the FMCG retail space, many firms still gather data from various sources, send it to teams of analysts and wait for “insights” that they can use to make decisions that better serve their customers. The problem is that this process takes time – sometimes weeks. Weeks. And really, what good it the data when it’s a few weeks old? But what’s worse, retailers put significant effort into manually manipulating data, using spreadsheets and similar tools. And where you have human intervention, you, unfortunately, increase the chance of errors due to siloed work streams and lack of an integrated process.
Enter our AI-enabled digital assistant, CINDE. Short for Conversational Insights Decision Engine – CINDE is a first-of-its-kind solution for grocery and hard goods retail that makes it easier than ever for a corporate leader, category manager, marketing professional and others to do data analysis and gain key insights into their business – in virtually real-time. CINDE, who is beginning to make a name for herself, uses machine learning and natural language processing to understand real-time business realities and help find answers to complex problems. She provides insights and recommends the next best actions. And, unlike other digital assistants in the market that are just voice, CINDE works out the most appropriate visualizations based on the data and questions asked and presents that back to business users and analysts using immersive visualization. She’s sort of like have a really smart, very fast human assistant – only without the needed coffee breaks, complaints and mistakes that inevitably come with best of our species.
The new QandA
Aside from her deep analytic skills, one of the great things about CINDE is that you can ask her questions in plain English, just like you would a coworker. Business executives and category managers need lots of insight on business performance to do their jobs. With CINDE, there’s no longer a need to create a lead time of a week or so to get specifics on the success or struggles of the business. They can simply ask questions such as:
- How is my X category performing in X store?
- What are the trends you see behind the performance in X category?
- What are customers buying instead of X product?
- How did the promotions in my category perform at each store this week?
CINDE processes billions of bits of data in real time and discovers trends and anomalies, serving up answers in seconds. Through highly advanced contextual analytics, she can understand spoken questions, analyze the data, extract the insights and choose the most effective visualizations for you and for your business.
We are continuing to add new ‘skills’ to CINDE’s existing capabilities. In addition to the category management skills built into CINDE at our initial launch, she can now answer questions around the success of single or multiple promotions. For example, a marketer can assess how a holiday promotion has previously performed at the department, category or brand level. CINDE can then provide recommendations for adjusting and optimizing promotions for the future. In addition to answering questions on promotions, CINDE’s forecasting capability recommends and optimizes the best promotions to run based on AI-enabled forecasting models. Retailers can ask questions like “What promotion didn’t perform well and what was the impact on sales, margin, and inventory?”
You have the answers, you just can’t find them
Exchange of ideas and information has always been at the heart of advancement in any field and the core of successful businesses. Yet, sometimes we ask the right question but simply don’t get the right answer.
CINDE truly personifies the unique approach we take to solving our customers’ most fundamental challenges and burdens to growth. We don’t just develop solutions that provide the right answer based on advanced AI algorithms; we also invest in cutting-edge technologies that make those answers more accessible and valuable, so our customers can ask relevant and timely questions and get the answers they need.
Just like Siri and Alexa pushed the limits of at-home convenience and made it easier than ever to put on the right song at the right time, CINDE is changing the way the retailers engage with data – making it easy to react to the constant change in the market place by mining the complexities of your data, finding hidden trends and giving you the insights that you can put to work immediately.
We know that business decisions are made in the context of their unique situation and there is no one-size-fits-all answer, that’s why we developed CINDE.
Other blogs in this series: