What AI means to the future of e-commerce and why most companies aren’t prepared for it
The concept of the oracle is widespread throughout human history. From ancient China to Classical Greece, beings who possessed predictive wisdom were sought out to offer consultative advice on matters of war, love and governance.
Modern societies have — thankfully — moved away from putting their faith in purportedly all-knowing entities. Instead, modernity demands that decisions be made based on information, or in other words, data.
As you likely learned in your first statistics course, sufficient data leads to accurate predictions. As the era of data science has progressed, we’ve begun to understand that massive amounts of data underpin highly informed and predictive decision making. This means that companies can now better predict where to allocate resources, and even determine which resources to allocate in the first place. According to Forbes, 53 per cent of companies are adopting big data analytics as of 2017, and the number only continues to grow.
If your company is already amassing big data and leveraging that to make effective decisions, then you’re on the right track. But if you’re not taking the next step and leveraging AI to turn that raw information into insights, then you’ll be left behind. And this is especially true in China, the world’s first trillion dollar e-commerce market. Thanks to the existence of third-party platforms that conduct online transactions, and their reporting structure, through the right tools, consumer data can be obtained and translated into highly-predictive AI technologies.
For example, with the right tools, a retail clothing company looking to break into the Chinese market can understand what type of jacket to sell, in what colour, at what time of year, and in which part of the country. AI can then be leveraged to automate, for example, ad buying, so that your ads are displayed at the right place, at the right time, to the right consumer.
Some companies, at least conceptually, understand the value of AI and data-science. But many others are barely scratching the surface. Even fewer grasp that AI is not simply an add-on to an already existing process, but rather a technology that will revolutionize existing processes for the better.. Once the concept is finally widely-grasped, business decisions and predictions will be made faster, better and cheaper, and no company can be opposed to that.
In Ancient Greece, there are remarkably few literary texts explaining the process of the oracle. This might be because the concept was so well understood and accepted by the people that it needed no explanation. Artificial intelligence’s predictive power is well on its way to achieving that status. Soon it will no longer be a concept, it will be woven into everything we do.