A.I. is here to stay
On a small scale, Artificial Intelligence is all around us — on our devices, browsers, and even in our home appliances. We rely on A.I. to give us directions or tell us the title of that classic film using Cortana or Siri to jog our memory. Google searches have made everyone look smarter and A.I. has given our devices the power to read our minds and behaviors, even helping us complete our thoughts as we try to compose a simple text message.

Which companies are effectively harnessing the power of A.I. right now?
We’ve talked about A.I. on a small scale, now here are two companies that are harnessing the power of A.I. on a larger scale to enhance their customer’s journey from online, to in-store, the physical retail space, and beyond.

 

IBM Watson Order Optimizer
Using insight and analytics, this is a tool that uses cognitive science to help Omni-channel fulfillment practitioners better understand their customers and drive real-time interactions. From the moment their customers hit “Buy Now”, Optimizer A.I. helps companies develop experiences that meet customer delivery expectations and drive profitable business from digital to physical store channels.

 

Staples’ Easy Button
You know those Staples’ commercials where people push a button to order the office supplies they need? It’s not a slick marketing campaign, turns out that ordering Staples office supplies really is as simple as pressing a big red button and telling Staples what you need (ala Alexa). Staples also lets you order supplies using email, text, Slack, Facebook messenger, or by simply taking a photo. This is a good example of using A.I. to give the customer what they need, when they need it. Plus, using IBM Watson (remember them?), all those Staples orders are transformed into data to make future transactions more personalized and intuitive.

 

 
Too much of a good thing?
A.I. may be a dream for retailers but the public isn’t 100% on board yet. There are fears around privacy and security, but the biggest reason could be that as Artificial Intelligence gets to know our preferences and behaviors, it seems to know what we want before we do. You’ve heard the stories, “The machines are taking over.” Maybe if the public heard more about how A.I. is improving our quality of life on even larger scale than buying and selling, and less doomsday prophecies, we’d all feel more at ease.

 
A.I. beyond retail
Many are using Artificial Intelligence for good like helping to create robotic limbs to replace those that have been lost or trying to solve big problems like finding a cure for cancer. This is where human imagination and technology truly become one and bring out the best in each other.

 
Speaking of imagination…
People tend to forget that there’s one thing that A.I. will never be able to replace and that’s creative thinking. Thinking outside of the box is and always will be a human function that machines can’t replicate no matter how powerful they are. Humans are full of surprises, machines aren’t. That’s why it’s important not to fear the power of A.I., but use it to enhance and improve our lives.