AI as a business ‘co-pilot’: Navigating through threats and promises

At the 2024 MMA Impact India Delhi edition, industry leaders discussed strategies for multi-location brands to use AI-driven tools for valuable customer insights. They explored AI's role in business growth and debated its future implications

Archana Raj
New Update
Listen to this article
0.75x 1x 1.5x
00:00 / 00:00

Delhi: When the moderator handed over the floor to discuss the impact of AI in the retail business, the panellists echoed phrases such as 'AI as a co-pilot,' AI as 'solving problems at scale,' leading to 'reduced work,' and AI's fantastical ability of 'alchemy.'

At the 13th edition of Impact India 2024, a panel discussion saw industry leaders delve into strategies for multi-location brands to leverage AI-driven tools in uncovering invaluable customer insights. They examined AI's function as a co-pilot in boosting business expansion and debated its future implications

During the discussion on how multi-brand companies leverage AI in their day-to-day operations, Shivani Chopra, Marketing Head of Consumer PC & Peripherals at HP India, stated, “With a retail network as extensive as ours, there is a large consumer journey where AI plays a huge role for us.”

Firstly, AI helps deliver information to the retail staff spread across the country and assists them in decoding effective content communication, tailored to their level of understanding, she said.

Highlighting the user base, Chopra further remarked that users want to know what products are best suited to their needs without sifting through long lists of specifications. “As a marketer, I want to shorten this cycle, so our retail staff relies on a recommendation engine powered by AI.”

When discussing AI's role in the healthcare sector, Himanshu Sirohi, Head of Digital Marketing at Apollo 24/7, highlighted the potential impact. "As a 40-year-old company like Apollo with over 150 hospitals, 6,000 pharmacies, and 2,000 diagnostic lab centres, we aim to use AI for saving lives and reducing people's suffering,” he stated.

"With approximately two million visitors landing on the Apollo website daily and over 3 crore app downloads, our digital platforms have become significant channels," he explained. 

"With assortment being a big channel, we leverage online behaviour data for assortment optimisation and enhance our supply chain models with real-time feedback driven by AI. This approach strengthens and aids in delivering better services," Sirohi emphasised.

When highlighting the customer journey from online to offline and the role of AI in gaining customer insights, Arif Ehsan, AVP Marketing at Domino's India, stated, "Considering we operate in about 2,000 stores in India, AI reaches across multiple facets of our operations. 

From determining where to open new stores to pinpointing accurate locations. We utilise AI models to predict these optimal locations," he stated.

He further highlighted that AI assists in crafting personalised communications tailored to each store's location, offers, and other relevant details. Therefore, “AI is our co-pilot in running the business” he added.

During the panel discussion, Sirohi talked about models for understanding customer behaviour. He highlighted a model called dynamic dominancy, which helps predict how customers switch between offline and online channels, use the app, or interact through CRM.

"With these models, we address issues promptly, like improving store experiences or delivering orders on time, and leverage AI to blend offline and online data to ensure a seamless customer experience," he explained.

Shahishekhar Mukherjee, Head of Digital Marketing, at Reckitt, stressed the importance of reviews on different sales channels, saying, "It's vital for us to pay attention to customer feedback. We do this by actively listening on social media platforms, including blogs and Facebook communities."

He underscored the importance of understanding genuine consumer conversations online, noting how these insights can shape advertising strategies, taking into account cultural nuances in both text and visuals. 

Using AI, Mukherjee mentioned how the company condenses large amounts of data into five actionable insights each week, helping in decision-making, particularly in non-D2C business models.

The Future of AI: Threat or Promise?

Reflecting on this though, Chopra stated, "I firmly believe in the mantra of 'never say never.' We can't predict how quickly things will evolve. However, there are a few reasons why I'm not worried.” She elaborated, stating that mundane tasks will diminish making room for more engaging work. But ultimately it's about the power of innovation. While the basics become easier with AI, humanity's challenge will be to continuously build upon this foundation of pushing boundaries and fostering creativity. 

“Ultimately, success will hinge on our ability to how we can harness the power of imagination to move towards new heights. People will need to adapt and embrace AI and leverage its capabilities to drive progress," she added.

Sirohi echoed the sentiment, saying, "The nature of jobs will change. They'll become more consultative, and frontline roles will definitely need to adapt. But I don't see it as a threat to their jobs. It's about evolving and leveraging these tools to take a more consultative approach."