One of my goals for 2019 was to read 26 books, effectively one every other week. Well, I ended the year having completed 18. I fell short of my goal; still feel like I satisfied my CQ (Curiosity Quotient), with completing one of my other goals of doing a deep dive in to ML/DL, so it’s no longer a black box. Done!
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Wondering what’s real about artificial intelligence? Today on BrainTrust LIVE, we’re fortunate to have Cynthia Holcomb, founder/CEO of Prefeye, and Shawn Harris, Customer Partnerships & Strategy, SmartLens — two retail practitioners who are working with their clients on real A.I. solutions. They’ll give us the lowdown — more specifically, on how retailers can currently use AI for personalization, the limitations that are frustrating them at present, and what does the future holds.
Recording on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/retailwire/videos/745383885894757/
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There is a great decoupling happening in retail, a structural change. Similar to the decoupling that the computing industry went through, going from being vertically integrated to horizontal specialist. What does this mean for retailers? Retailers need to be clear on what their unique selling proposition is, that is why do customers choose them vs their competitor, or substitute; then double down on those things. Is it your wide assortment, price, convenience, customer service, maybe safety now, or some thing less rational. Everything else should be considered for outsourcing to horizontal specialist, those who are optimized to delivery a particular service, or product.
Within any company, typically the most valuable resources are centered around the making and the selling organizations. There is no difference in retail; instead it’s the merchandising and store operations organizations, and I would add human resources to being core. Most other functions should be evaluated for their need to be an in-house capability.
When a system operates optimally, when interacting with individuals or groups who mirror the makeup of its creators; yet suboptimally otherwise.
By the year 2020, it is estimated that the average person will generate 1.5 GB worth of data per day. At that point, it won't be just about your firm's share of customer wallet; instead, you be asked… what's your firm's customer data share? Oh, and consider today who owns the majority of insight in to "your" customer.
#010: This Game is Not One-Dimensional, You Have to Face the Customer with Shawn Harris, Global Innovation Strategy Lead, Zebra Technologies.
In this episode of The IoClothes Podcast, we speak with Shawn Harris, Global Innovation Strategy Lead for Zebra Technologies. The reality is, innovative products don’t just sell themselves and companies aren’t composed of just designers, developers and engineers. Someone has to interface with the customer, and keep the ship sailing along a strategic path, which includes profitability (that’s if you want to stay in business). Today, we shift gears and talk a bit about the struggles of retail, the importance of differentiating yourself in the marketplace and how are current relationship with MS Excel may be a sign of the future!
I believe that for the foreseeable future, human machine collaboration, which will lead to a new type of collective intelligence will be a requirement. Today, we are seeing many advances in the ability of machines to make high confidence predictions; in narrow use cases. This will certainly lead to significant shifts in tasks within job roles. However, where I think machines will lack for some time is in judgement. Judgement being the ability to consider multiple predictions, and come to sensible conclusions in context. This is where humans will need to remain in the loop, playing a key role in judgement. This human machine partnership will lead to a collective intelligence that will results in even higher confidence outcomes, than either could realize individually. However, this prescribed union could quickly find the machine taking more and more of the judgement role as well. Just consider Google’s search results; at this point, how many of us ever get to the second page of results. What’s happening here is that we are trusting Google algorithm’s judgement. We could debate the consequences of this for search results; as we endeavor to use AI in medicine, autonomous cars, and other decisioning based on potentially biased data, we will need to take a more deliberate approach to the policies and practices around final judgement.
I believe that lifelong learning is essential to career success. Technology is changing every industry, and each segment within. Today, you cannot rest on your undergraduate and graduate degrees, and on the job experiences alone. You have to go back to school. But, you don't have to go back to a school. MOOCS, or Massively Open On-line Courses have transformed learning. Now, you can advance your knowledge, with courses from top universities; from the comfort of your couch. Platforms like edx.org, coursera.com, getsmarter, and numerous others allow you to take many courses for free (audit), or for a relatively small fee earn a certificate of completion, which proves you've successful completed a given program. I am a huge proponent of these platforms. For the past year, I have been doing the micromasters in Supply Chain Management via MIT CTL & Edx, and soon will be starting a course in Artificial Intelligence via MIT CSAIL & Getsmarter. No question, it's a lot of work, when you work and have a family, but it's worth it. Stay hungry, stay foolish.
Highlights from a recent article in the South China Morning Post:
The Chinese's Guanggun Jie, or Singles Day, takes place each year on 11/11. A day set aside to celebrate being proud to be single, has become one of the largest consumer shopping days of the year, dominated by one ecommerce giant Alibaba. Last year (2016), Alibaba processed $17.8B in Gross Merchadise Volume (GMV), which doesn't represent Alibaba's corporate revenue, but instead the total value of the goods sold on the platform. Alibaba mostly earns revenue on advertising placements on the platform. Yesterday, for Singles Day 2017, a whopping $25.3B was purchased through the Alibaba platform. This represented a 39% YoY increase. Wow. However, what this also continues to demonstrate is the structural shift underway in retail, where one digital platform can attract and process more volume in a day, than most retailers do in a year. Think about it, today we're talking about Alibaba, not the 140,000 brands and retailers who provided the products. Who owns the customer, really? That's huge!
"I would be shocked if Amazon implemented this tech as described. I do think they would implement the tech to monitor in-store web traffic to gain insights to make the overall shopping experience better. I would recommend other retailers do the same; many are still struggling to make sense of the data they have." ~ Shawn Harris
"I am who I am today, because of yesterday. I look forward to seeing who I will be tomorrow, because of today." ~ Shawn Harris
"As we work to optimize business by reducing the influence of our humanity, I believe we will soon realize that our humanity is our greatest asset." ~Shawn Harris
"It's all about culture, culture, culture." ~Shawn
"The key to TJX’s success is their merchants. They are constantly on the hunt for high-value, on-trend, opportunistic buys. This creates the treasure hunt, and a compelling reason to shop … frequently. I think TJX will launch a full assortment off-price furniture chain, instead of it just being a department in HomeGoods. It’s not department stores that should be worried, it’s full-priced traditional furniture stores who should keep their eyes wide open." ~Shawn Harris
"I think that the key reason people follow retailers and brands on social media is for reasons of lifestyle projection. Either the consumer is living, or wants to live, the brands ideals. For grocers, this would be things like healthy living and sustainability. With the brand ideals as the backdrop, consumers will become sticky if the social feed is educational, informative, entertaining, will save them time and/or money or is otherwise a utility — very much similarly to why consumers want and keep a mobile app installed." ~ Shawn Harris