Anshita: Hello, and welcome to another episode in our tech of the week podcast series. I am Anshita Solanki, Senior Content Writer at Softweb Solutions. I have with me, Abhinav Srivastava, Sr. Business Manager at Softweb Solutions – an Avnet company.
Our today’s episode is dedicated to artificial intelligence, and I would like Abhinav to talk about how companies across industries can use AI to accelerate their digital transformation journey and create value across different areas of the business chain.
So, Abhinav, can you please tell us about the current situation of AI adoption, considering the new normal?
Abhinav: Sure, Anshita.
The unprecedented global crisis has triggered a monstrous shock in demand and supply, disturbing the ability of many companies to foresee future trends. The fragility of the situation has forced technology laggards to rethink upon their entire business value chain model including manufacturing, retail, supply chain and more. The key is to embrace AI as integral part of the business model, putting the technology at the center of the organization.
Meanwhile, those who have already implemented AI are better equipped to manage and streamline their entire business model, including supply chain processes, channels, products and deliver on consumer needs with speed, scale and specificity. So, what I am trying to say is AI can play a vital role in recovering faster from the ongoing crisis and establishing more resilient enterprises.
Anshita: Right, so you mentioned that AI plays a vital role. Can you further explain how AI enables businesses to find success in the new reality and assess the true potential of AI across the entire business chain, including the five major areas, which we’ll discuss as we go.
Abhinav: Before I answer your question, let me tell you that these areas may have different degrees of relevance for sectors and industries, and the usage may differ accordingly too.
So, let’s have a look at the supply chain first
As the AI’s biggest impact is felt on the supply chain, from anticipating orders to managing deliveries – AI has the power to substantially improve efficiency in all areas of the supply chain.
Companies require smart and strategic recovery actions on the economic and social fronts. It is crucial for the supply chain industry to balance the mismatch between supply and demand. Coping with supply issues, organizations need to streamline supply chain processes such as load forecasting & vehicle scheduling; hence, enters AI to make predicting such scenarios possible.
AI can help organizations make real-time business decisions to create an accurate and informed forecasting strategy. This means, AI engines provide the best possible scenarios based upon intelligent algorithms and M2M analysis of real-time data to anticipate the evolution of demands across all channels.
Anshita: Right. Moving onto our next focus area, that’s retail. So how does AI transform retail operations?
Abhinav: As we all know that retail is quite a volatile industry, and high forecasting errors are pretty much common. By using AI, many retailers are improving their forecasting accuracy and enjoying cost reduction. Also, forecasting errors caused by the traditional method has gone down by 30 to 50%.
So, retailers can get the most out of AI by focusing on –
1. Forecasting and intelligence
2. Automation and routing and
3. Planning across key areas, which includes demand, supply and capacity management
Anshita: That was insightful. So, what do you have to say about creating value for production. How does AI help here?
Abhinav: So, considering the manufacturing industry, whether a needle or an aircraft manufacturing company. Or in terms of delivering services like pharmaceuticals and healthcare, AI helps to improve the production process in both these cases.
Speeding up processes, reducing costs, increasing output and improving quality by reducing errors are some of the ways in which AI tools help to get the most out of machinery and people.
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Anshita: Also Abhinav, we’ve noted that AI is enhancing the sales and marketing process too. Can you please throw a light on this?
Abhinav: Of course! The technology is opening various doors for marketers and sales representatives. AI is being used in analyzing past sales data to identify hidden patterns and provide cross-selling and up-selling opportunities for the sales team.
The biggest advantage of AI to marketers is the potential to provide personalized services to every customer. For example, energy retailers are offering custom benefits such as low rates or extra service for their customers and sending discount codes directly on a customers’ mobile.
Also, according to Forbes, 53% of marketers intend to adopt AI over the next two years, so we can expect to see a lot more ways in which AI will be helping marketers.
Anshita: So, AI is blooming in almost every aspect for the organization.
Anshita: And now to the most important area, rather the heart of any business – customer service. So, how does AI empower this area of business?
Abhinav: AI helps in automating the customer service process through AI-enabled chatbots.
Waiting for a reply to answer a phone call is the most frustrating thing ever, but with AI to the rescue, we no longer must wait. AI can keep a customer’s frustration caused due to the long waiting period, under the control, using virtual assistants. They are usually quick and powerful in pulling out customer information and answer their queries over phone or chat.
For example, Hello Barbie, Siri, Alexa and MedWhat are quite popular chatbots and virtual assistants in the market.
Anshita: Interesting. Now that we have learned about the impact of AI on various fields of the business process, I’d like you to walk us through the implementation of AI in various industries.
Abhinav: Sure, Anshita. So, let me begin with
AI Maturity Framework for Organization
Artificial intelligence is considered to be the most significant technological advancement of this generation. And to thrive in this digital era, organizations need to become AI-driven and more digital. Moreover, it is imperative to realize the value that an AI maturity framework brings for companies.
Energy and utility
The energy and utility industry has a great potential to implement AI across various areas in order to optimize processes, reduce costs, improve productivity and more.
Talking about renewable energy sources, maintaining supply and demand is a challenging task as these energy sources are weather dependent and quite unpredictable. But AI can help solve such issues with the help of predictive analytics that can accurately evaluate the production and consumption rates.
Not only this, but AI can also help this industry in
- Predictive maintenance
- Load forecasting
- Ensuring continuous operations and much more
National Grid of the UK is one of the shining examples of energy and utility company using AI to optimize their demand and supply. The company used AI models to predict peaks in demand and supply in order to maximize the integration of renewable energy resources.
Now, let’s have a look at the various ways in which you can use AI in manufacturing.
AI is going to play a crucial role in the next industrial revolution. It will help manufacturers to find new business models, adjust product quality and optimize operations at the shop floor.
Predictive maintenance is one of the fastest-growing AI niches in the manufacturing space. Quality assurance is another area where AI can be used widely.
Apart from these two, AI can help manufacturers in several ways, including:
- Fault detection
- Supply chain management
- Better human-robot collaboration
- Accelerating R&D efforts
- Yield optimization
- Automated procurement & so on
For example, AI helps Siemens in predictive maintenance as a key area to help reduce costs. It helped the company to reduce the unplanned machine downtimes by up to 50%.
Now let us find why the telecom industry will be soon betting on artificial intelligence.
Major headache for telecom companies is to manage their dynamic networks. They are now using AI extensively to optimize their network through AI tools. They have been fairly successful in minimizing human intervention to manage networks.
Telcos are also using AI to enhance their customer service experience. They have turned to virtual assistants to handle installation requests, set up, troubleshooting and other maintenance issues in a more efficient manner.
For example, Verizon is using AI to streamline their processes and services, identify potential problems in the network, detect production defects, predict an increase in data traffic and deliver more targeted offerings to their customers.
Now, let’s find how oil and gas companies are using AI.
Oil and Gas
AI can assist oil and gas companies in modeling speed and forecast financial through scenario analysis, thereby lowering operational costs. Apart from this, AI can assist companies in –
- Finding new sources at prospective drilling sites
- Critical analysis of oil and gas permit applications
- Preventive maintenance of drilling equipment
- Optimizing the drilling process and
- Depiction of the sweet spot sources
Let’s take an example of Shell – one of the top Oil and Gas companies. They have been using AI to chart a more accurate course for the well, to analyze data of compressors, valves, etc. and predict equipment failure well in advance.
Anshita: So, Abhinav, in conclusion, we can say that AI can undoubtedly re-shape all of the business chain processes.
Abhinav: Indeed, across the board. From early stages of planning to production, warehouse activities, communication and logistics, market-shaping to enhancing the customer experience; and can bring greater value to businesses across industries.
Anshita: Thank you, Abhinav, for sharing your valuable insights. With this, I would like to wrap up the podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel and tune in again for the next episode of our tech of the week series.
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