Putting AI into action for execution of business goals

Few AI solutions enable retailers to initiate the quick and seamless execution of recommended actions, hindering profitable revenue growth

Artificial intelligence goes beyond traditional business intelligence, making sense of massive data sets to identify immediate profit and growth opportunities. Think of AI as satellite navigation for business decisionsmapping out prescriptive and adaptive recommendations based on lightning-fast analysis of all the influential factors. But for many retailers, putting AI into action – what those insights it gives you are all about – is often where the journey ends. They ask themselves How do I know I’m connecting the dots and headed in the right direction?  They miss the true opportunities in retail that AI affords. If putting the insights into action is delayed by manual processes or disparate systems, momentum is lost, and the projected financial benefits of those initiatives start to look a lot less likely.  

This is an issue for retailers today, especially those quick to embrace AI solutions without a thorough understanding of what comes after the “identification” phase, and what their strategy will be for “activation. Enthusiastic about the insights they’ll glean, as well as the time and effort AI will save their teams, retailers too often move forward without much thought about what they’ll do with their new-found intelligence.  

Success of a campaign or new strategy hinges on seamless execution  

Retail organizations are certainly taking steps to act on their business intelligence, and some are taking advantage of the insights afforded to them through AI. The problem is, the execution activity still mostly happens manually, in silos, or through disconnected legacy technology.  

For example, a retailer could use AI to analyze customer data and identify which promotional offers should be given to Person A vs. Person B, or predict how Person C responds to offers depending on the time of day, week, or delivery method, compared to Person D. Great! You know exactly what is recommended, as well as the results you can accurately expect to see.  

But ask yourself: are you set up to actually deliver the personalized marketing offers at the most opportune time? And when the offer is delivered to customers, will you have already worked in tandem with suppliers and independent stores to execute on an accurate demand forecast? In other words, will inventory levels be ready to handle increased demand driven by offer redemption without leaving you overstocked? 

“Activation” is the orchestration of all activity that must take place for an intended business outcome to become reality, and it can’t be an afterthought. If seamless execution between departments and information systems is not prioritized, and swift action can’t be taken to put plans into motion, retailers can count on pretty lackluster results.  

The “identify” and “activate” phases make up two-thirds of the holistic framework Symphony RetailAI is focused on delivering, and we’ll take a look at the last piece in a future blog post. In the meantime, read Artificial Intelligence: Opportunities in Retail to take a deeper dive into AI solutions that enable seamless execution.

For more information on this topic, access our latest viewpoint paper, titled Identify, Activate, Realize – Use AI to drive profitable revenue growth.