Engineering Expertise The Bots are Coming! By Bobbi Makani | September 28, 2017 Artificial Intelligence is here and another age of disruption has begun. Count on real-time simulations, smart devices, and machine learning to change the game for students seeking careers in businesses of all kinds. For most retail and consumer product companies, what was considered science fiction five years ago is now becoming a reality. A new era of profound technology transformation has commenced. Most industry leaders know that they need to innovate their business practices or else be left behind by their competitors. Image source: engadget.com Echos From the Future Consider this scenario from the not-too-distant future: you receive a delivery of eggs and milk because your refrigerator tells Amazon that you need it. You get discounts for automobile insurance because your car tells the insurance company that you are a safe driver. Your TV lines up programs for you to watch, in the order in which you like to watch them when you like to watch them because your TV knows what you like to watch on which days and times. Image source: wikipedia.org Finding Our WAZE We are already experiencing this in the transportation and mobility industry. For anyone who has used Waze or Google Maps to guide them while driving to their destination, the first encounter with a new route suggestion may initially have come as an amusement. Mobile devices often route drivers away from congested major highways and through unfamiliar surface streets. How many times have we wondered if, perhaps, our mobile devices were wrong? We typically think of our route to a regular destination, such as while commuting, as being fairly well prescribed. Those days are long gone. Fed by real-time sensors contributed by other drivers on the road, intelligent maps now adjust their recommendations based on traffic patterns, accidents and other emergencies that impact automated route selection. Every time drivers travel down a path, their mapping app tracks their speed–information that can then be broadcast to every following driver. Multiply each driving experience across hundreds of possible routes to a given destination and you understand how artificial intelligence is changing the game for millions of drivers around the world. Data provided by all the travelers on the road make the experience of the map better, whether traveling in Dubai or in Dublin. Image source: wikipedia.org Massively Customized Experiences Data-driven AI has arrived at the pizza parlor as well. Coca-Cola has been setting taste standards for generations, yet for the first time, they now make it convenient for customers to mix their own drinks. Their Freestyle vending machines are tied to a mobile app that enables customers to mix their own flavors and even share them with friends. According to Greg Chambers, Coke’s director of digital innovation, the intelligence generated by customers mixing their own drinks has revealed that many people like to mix Cherry and Sprite flavors. Soon, Coke will ship a new Cherry Sprite product based on this “crowdsourced”, validated data. It will be just a matter of time before our home appliances will be equipped with bots that will be able to anticipate our needs and order them automatically for us. We will soon say goodbye to multiple trips to the grocery store and shopping lists. Personalization will become a given through intelligent predictive analytics. This will, in turn, lead to the consumer’s attachment and loyalty to the brand. The race for innovative solutions in the consumer market has already started. It will be a wise move for all consumer businesses to keep ahead of the technology.