How the right approach to change management drives effective AI adoption

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For all the talk about artificial intelligence, or AI, one of the realities is that it will dramatically change many industries—everything from retail and manufacturing to marketing and insurance and beyond.

The power of AI is increasingly being embraced by companies looking to enhance their financial performance and operations by making complex decisions beyond human capability, automating processes and streamlining workflows. AI can dramatically reduce or eliminate time-consuming, repetitive, and manual processes, allowing a company’s employees to focus on more strategic tasks.

Gary Saarenvirta, Daisy’s founder and CEO, said AI should be leveraged to tackle tasks beyond the capability of humans. “We should allow the technology to do things that people can’t do, and let people focus on what they do well—things like ambiguous thinking, creativity, strategy and building relationships.”

Saarenvirta says while AI will be disruptive, it is important to keep people employed. “Job roles will change but if we empower people to do their best work and enjoy it, that’s the ultimate goal.”

In many cases, embracing AI means more than simply purchasing and deploying the technology. AI involves changes in culture, internal processes, how employees are compensated and job roles becoming more strategic.

In the retail sector, for example, the role of the merchant will evolve as AI is embraced to handle manual tasks like selecting products to promote and determining prices.

Daisy’s AI-powered platform analyzes 100% of a retailer’s transactions to make recommendations about the best promotional product and price mix. These recommendations make it faster and easier for retailers to create merchandise strategies.

By eliminating manual tasks, merchants—who spend up to 50% of their time selecting products and price—can focus on high-value tasks like negotiating with vendors, discovering new products and enhancing the customer experience. While Daisy will change how merchants do their jobs, there are tangible and significant benefits that will be gained by elevating the role of merchants to set the strategy and guideposts that the AI operates within and operate more strategically.

In one example of how Daisy improves processes, Saarenvirta said a grocery chain used AI to take over its data entry and planning for a flyer promotion.

Saarenvirta said deploying Daisy’s platform “improved the quality of the data because AI is now doing the planning and the data entry, and that has a double impact. It saved labor and the output was better.”

In another example of AI’s effectiveness, Saarenvirta said one grocer’s merchants were inflexible about last-minute changes to a product on the front page of a center-store deal.

From the retailer’s data, Daisy learned the retailer needed to start planning earlier to account for changes in promotions so center store merchants could collect trade dollars. “The technology vendor had to find a way to fit into the way an ecosystem works,” he said.

The result was a win-win proposition for the retailer, customer and consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs), which ultimately sold more products. “If it works well, it should be a win across the board,” Saarenvirta says.

From working with more than 20 customers around the world, Saarenvirta said Daisy has learned some key lessons.

One of the most important takeaways is making sure to have a solid change management strategy that starts at the C-level. Saarenvirta said executives can learn from the stock market, which previously involved many buyers and sellers trading stocks on the trading floor but has evolved to nearly all computer trading.

“If the C-suite embraces this and says, ‘We are going to let AI be a part of it,’ it makes change less difficult on the merchants.”

Companies also need to be clear about AI’s business benefits and the impact that it will have employees and key stakeholders.

“When we show the financial opportunity, it can’t be ignored,” Saarenvirta says. “The financial pressure of the grocery business is the motivating factor. That, and market forces—bringing solutions to a difficult problem, which is profitability—will get retailers interested.”

Ultimately, retailers need to embrace AI because the benefits and the ability to establish a competitive advantage will be impossible to ignore. “Start doing it sooner rather than later,” Saarenvirta says. “You’ll have less change in the long run.”

About Daisy

Daisy is an AI-powered platform for merchants focused on optimizing promotional product and price mixes for dramatically improved business results. Daisy uses reinforcement learning, a branch of A.I., and its patent-pending Theory of Retail™ to be truly unique in the marketplace and on the cutting edge of the category management revolution.

This post is sponsored by Daisy Intelligence