Don’t formulate your strategy without Artificial Intelligence.
This post previews some of the key findings of our research for the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors into how technology will transform the wholesale distribution industry. Download it now.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not just “advanced technology” – it’s a learning technology that improves on its own without human intervention. AI relies on big pools of data that are fed into machine learning algorithms (math formulas) to continually make decisions, evaluate their own performance and get better over time. That’s true whether it’s a system that plays chess, drives cars, forecasts inventory, guides warehouse robots, flies drones or recommends products to online shoppers.
AI today is about where the internet was in 1995. In 1995, if you were doing a five-year plan for your company and didn’t consider the internet, including ecommerce, email and e-procurement, your strategic plan would have been obsolete before the ink dried.
As with the early days of the internet, when we didn’t really understand where the “information superhighway” was going, it’s easy to be skeptical about AI’s eventual impact. But if you don’t understand AI today, what it does and how it may change your customers’ expectations – as well as your competition – you won’t be able to formulate a good strategy.
Your customers will expect you to offer AI-driven capabilities someday soon (e.g., voice ordering or product recognition with a smartphone camera). You need to start planning to offer those services and others soon because new entrants Amazon, Google, Alibaba and others are AI-enabled capabilities to customers today.
I go deeper into AI and the impact of other disruptive technologies in distribution, such as marketplaces and 3D printing, in my latest whitepaper for the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, The Coming Storm of Converging Technologies: How Technology Will Transform Wholesale Distribution.
Ian Heller is the Founder and Chief Strategist for Distribution Strategy Group. He has more than 30 years of experience executing marketing and e-business strategy in the wholesale distribution industry, starting as a truck unloader at a Grainger branch while in college. He’s since held executive roles at GE Capital, Corporate Express, Newark Electronics and HD Supply. Ian has written and spoken extensively on the impact of digital disruption on distributors, and would love to start that conversation with you, your team or group. Reach out today at firstname.lastname@example.org.