Interested in adding AI to your operations? FMG speakers shared ideas


LAS VEGAS — Artificial intelligence is here to stay, which means it’s time for businesses to get to know how it could help them succeed. That point was driven home by two AI experts at Furniture Marketing Group’s 2024 Symposium at the Horseshoe Las Vegas.

“Harvard Business School’s Karim Lakhani said AI won’t replace humans, but humans with AI will replace humans without AI,” noted Satish Natarajan, founder CEO of DispatchTrack, who spoke along with Daniel Alvarado, CEO of White Shark Media.

Alvarado said that 35% of businesses are already using AI with more than 100 different use cases.

He said machines learn by doing and failing, and he used the example of a space too small for an automobile to pass through. Alvarado said a human would know by looking that the space is too small and find an alternate route, but a machine would perceive the opening, try it, fail and then begin searching for alternatives on its next attempt.

“Machines can afford to crash and learn from that crash,” he said. “There’s a little space, so the machine will go through. It will crash and realize that’s not a good outcome.”

Alvarado said businesses can use AI as time savers, for marketing and for organization. He used the example of incorporating AI into one’s CRM to improve profiles and to anticipate customer needs.

“ChatGPT uses natural language processing. You ask it a question, and it gives you an answer. There’s no context, only the context you give it,” he said. “Go to your CRM and plug in some sort of ChatGPT — now it has context, information about customers, order history, service tickets. Imagine what it could do then when you put it into context.”

Similarly, he said AI could complement marketing efforts through personalization. “AI is able to use content and transform it into something else,” he said. “It can create summarized versions of this presentation, different variations for social media posts, a blog article from what’s available in it.”

Natarajan said AI can be used to make a retailer’s logistical operations better. He said, before long, AI-generated route optimization, smart scheduling, service skill matches, time predictions and service quality predictions will be realities. He said DispatchTrack can already anticipate which deliveries will have the best outcome.

“We have enough data from what’s happening in deliveries and the customer scores (that) we can tell you which deliveries have a 50% or more probability of giving you a 3 or less score (out of 5) before the customer gives you that data,” he said.

Like Alvarado, Natarajan said AI can allow businesses to drill down to the individual level. “Group in cohorts, and then ask how does this group behave? Put a supercomputer on it, and we can now do a cohort of one,” he said. “That’s what personalization is all about. Leading you down the question cycle and learning cycle.”

Both said retailers should be open to giving AI a chance.

“It’s worth your time to be open to trying it,” Natarajan said. “What used to happen in a year happens in a week; what happened in a week now happens in 10 minutes. It’s a race.”

Added Alvarado, “Find a single-use case to start. Think of a problem you’re trying to solve, and solve for it. Understand the pilot could go wrong, and that’s fine. Once you have a successful use case, share it with the team.”

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