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Artificial Intelligence in supermarket chains: three myths to debunk!

However the majority of sectors know there would now be significant benefits for them of tapping into this technology and its potential for their recovery, transformation or digitization. One of these, in France, is supermarket retail, a sector with multiple challenges, both professional and related to the general public, that is embedded in the daily lives of all French people, could lead the way… Provided, of course, this means heading in the right direction!

 

Myth number 1: AI will be able to replace people, and soon

Doubtless because of the (mistaken) use of the word« intelligence », but also because science fiction has always had such a hold on our collective imagination, Artificial Intelligence technologies have immediately and enduringly been seen to have super powers, which is far from the truth today. Part of the« intelligence »of these innovations is indeed based on humans, who remain necessary for them to be deployed and used well. The aim, therefore, in adopting AI is rather an improved use of human skills, by removing anything that can be automated. Ultimately we need to destroy the fantasy of “strong AI”, which does not exist in 2021, nor will it in the near future. We urgently need to demystify AI and clarify its actual role - a tool that gives the user super powers, which is already pretty impressive in itself!

 

Myth number 2: AI innovations are only designed for the general public, through B2C apps

“General public” applications of AI have so far benefited from significant visibility, even going viral at times, with often generic uses, and professional or recreational apps (such as FaceApp or the chatbots that are now found on numerous websites). These B2C apps don't mean we should forget the B2B uses of AI, which are much more specialized and respond to technical constraints unique to each sector. A number of businesses are working to revolutionize operational, rather than recreational, uses, with the aim of providing concrete solutions to areas where traditional technology has yet to prove itself. Many players, leaders in their sectors, have luckily understood this well: when technology immediately meets their needs, the results can be powerful. That’s why quickly becoming part of this iterative virtuous cycle is also important!


Myth number 3: AI will be rolled out everywhere, and used all the time, in every job

Because we have been satisfied with talking up its technological performance for too long, AI has been severely lacking in figures proving its economic performance in sectors it has directly or indirectly impacted. Consequently, too few AI-based solutions have been widely adopted on a daily basis to revolutionize the way we work, despite its definite potential and appeal. Indeed, the successful adoption of AI solutions does not merely mean just integrating AI algorithms, but is measured in terms of tangible and quantifiable results, accompanied by productivity gains and the long-term transformation of processes. An AI solution that can demonstrate all this, far from being beholden to trends, is ultimately one that successfully establishes a lasting foothold in the industrial landscape by disrupting it, and is often also one that devotes significant resources to R&D.


Let’s hope that 2021 is the year we can move on from the myths of AI and put usefulness and profitability at the center - in a real and measurable way. The best way of achieving this would be to enlist businesses specializing in a particular sector, who understand the technical requirements and challenges, and who have a sufficiently solid structure to develop proven technology. As a sector that has specific physical constraints, standardized tasks and that is constantly looking for efficient tools, Artificial Intelligence can play a significant role in supermarket retail on issues ranging from shelf management to data analysis. For this to happen, vision and a responsible approach are required in order for this major technological evolution to achieve its potential.

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