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A quarter of global retailers implemented AI in 2018

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Core Tip:Over a quarter (28 per cent) of retailers are deploying AI today, an increase of 17 per cent from 2017, found a new stud
 Over a quarter (28 per cent) of retailers are deploying AI today, an increase of 17 per cent from 2017, found a new study from Capgemini Research Institute. The study looked at 400 global retailers that are implementing AI use cases at different stages of maturity - a group that represents 23 per cent of the global retail market by revenue.

The study ‘Retail superstars: How unleashing AI across functions offers a multi-billion dollar opportunity’ says that 71 per cent of retailers think that AI is creating jobs today, with over two-thirds (68 per cent) of the jobs being at a senior level. Meanwhile, 75 per cent of the companies declared that AI has not replaced any jobs in their organisation so far.

Retailers are now remarkably aligned on the impact AI is likely to have on customer relations and sales. While expectations have declined from 2017, nevertheless, the report finds that 98 per cent of respondents using AI in customer-facing functions expect the number of customer complaints to reduce by up to 15 per cent, while 99 per cent expect AI to increase sales by up to 15 per cent.

In order to calculate the clear opportunities for future growth, such as the benefits expected and the feasibility of implementation, the Capgemini Research Institute analysed 43 working use cases for AI.

The study calculated that there is a $300 billion+ opportunity for those retail companies that are able to scale and expand the scope of their existing deployments. However, the report also found that just 1 per cent of use cases by retailers have achieved this level of deployment as on date.

The lack of scalability is likely caused by retailers focusing on more complex, higher-return projects. Deployments to date have also lacked a focus on customer usability. The driving forces behind current AI implementations are cost (62 per cent) and ROI (59 per cent), while customer experience (10 per cent) and known customer pain points (7 per cent) are significantly lower priorities.

only 26 per cent of AI use cases today are operations focused, but these were among the most profitable in terms of cost returns.

Retailers today are more realistic about their level of AI preparedness. Those claiming that they have the skills needed to implement AI have dropped from 78 per cent in 2017 to 53 per cent today. Finally, those organisations claiming to have a roadmap for AI deployment have dropped from 81 per cent in 2017 to just 36 per cent today.

“For global retailers, it appears reality has kicked in regarding AI, both in terms of what the technology can achieve and what they need to do to get there. Of course deploying and scaling will be the next big objective, but retailers should be wary not to chase ROI figures without also considering the customer experience,” said Kees Jacobs, vice president, global consumer products and retail sector at Capgemini. “Our research shows a clear imbalance of organisations prioritising cost, data and ROI when deploying AI, with only a small minority considering the customer pain points also. These two factors need to be given equal weighting if long-term AI growth, with all of the benefits it brings, is to be achieved.”

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