Lori Schafer in Retail Today: CEOs and CFOs, Listen Up: Here’s How to Jump-Start Your AI Journey

An article written by Digital Wave Technology’s CEO, Lori Schafer. Find the original article published by Retail Today here.

The tides have turned for artificial intelligence in retail, and the stakes are growing: retailers know they must embrace AI or be left behind. As a result, I talk to dozens of C-level retail executives every week about how to best incorporate AI into their business strategy.

CEOs and CFOs face heightened interest from their boards of directors on how to use AI to a company’s advantage — and how to quickly achieve measurable results. These leaders are now joining chief marketing officers and chief information officers in meetings with potential technical partners to discuss the challenges their business is facing and how AI or generative AI can provide support.

Finding the right partner is critical, especially since AI capabilities are literally evolving by the week. To take full advantage of AI, retail CEOs and CFOs must do two things: understand the strategic areas where AI can make the biggest difference, and then ask tough questions of potential technology partners.

4 Strategic Areas That Are Ripe for AI Impact

There are four strategic areas that are particularly well-suited for AI transformation:

  1. Financial Performance: Boards expect retail leaders to deliver sustained revenue growth and shareholder value by meeting financial targets, managing costs, and identifying new opportunities for growth.
  2. Market Share and Competitiveness: Retail leaders must improve competitive positioning by expanding into new markets and staying ahead of industry trends and consumer preferences.
  3. Innovation: Adopting emerging trends helps retail leaders develop differentiation in products, services and customer experiences.
  4. Operational Efficiency: Retail leaders are expected to streamline processes, improve productivity, and enhance overall performance.

These goals are incredibly complex. The good news, though, is that they’re ideally suited to AI. And with these strategic objectives in mind, you can begin the process of choosing the right technology partner.

Tough Questions to Ask Potential Technology Providers

Nearly every solution provider today touts some level of AI capabilities, making it extraordinarily difficult to accurately compare vendors. How can you identify the right partner? Here are some pointed and tough questions that can help you make the right selection:

  1. What specific business problem does your AI solution address?
  2. How does your AI solution integrate with existing systems and workflows?
  3. Can you provide examples or case studies of successful implementations?
  4. What data is required for your AI solution to operate effectively?
  5. What level of customization or personalization is possible with your solution?
  6. How does your AI solution handle scalability and performance as data volume grows?
  7. What metrics or KPIs do you use to measure the success of your AI solution?
  8. What ongoing support and maintenance services do you provide?
  9. How do you ensure data privacy and security in your AI solution?

The answers will vary widely. By probing into the capabilities, limitations and overall approach to AI, you’ll gain deeper insight that will help you choose the best provider for your current and future business needs.

Start With the Right Strategy, Then Carefully Choose Your Tech Partner

It’s full speed ahead for AI in retail, and to achieve the levels of efficiency, profitability, competitiveness and innovation that retail boards of directors expect, CEOs and CFOs are embracing AI as a transformational technology. By forming the right strategy and asking tough questions of tech vendors, you can choose a partner that will help your business meet and exceed its goals for years to come.

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