CEOs outline visions for uses of AI across industries

CEOs outline visions for uses of AI across industries

While some industry leaders are warning of the potential dangers of AI, other executives are embracing the rapidly developing technology and say they are already finding ways to incorporate it into their operations.

In a series of interviews, six CEOs projected optimistic views for the role they expect AI to play in their respective industries. They also outlined ways AI could benefit customers, from restaurants to retail services and e-commerce opportunities.

In an event Wednesday titled “The Economic Snapshot: CEO Summit,” The Hill editor-in-chief Bob Cusack hosted conversations with United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby, National Restaurant Association president and CEO Michelle Korsmo, Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen , National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay, Altana AI Co-Founder and CEO Evan Smith and Ebay President and CEO Jamie Iannone.

McMullen predicted that AI will help Kroger tailor customer experiences to their personal taste preferences and also help ensure freshness across supply chains.

“We think AI will be a huge boon, in terms of improving the customer experience, tailoring each offering to exactly that particular family member, and understanding the tastes they prefer,” said McMullen.

“For us, it’s more about how to help employees do their jobs more easily and how to make the customer experience more positive, more fun.”

Already, McMullen said, Kroger is implementing 2D code test examples, which can use AI technology to help determine how many days of freshness a product has.

“We are able to make sure that something we sell to the customer is at least five days fresh when they buy it,” he said. “We haven’t scaled this kind of thing, but we’re actually testing it in stores.”

As for restaurants, industry leaders are discussing ways to implement AI in taking customer orders and also in the hiring process, as worker shortages still persist across the industry.

Korsmo said he just attended a conference in Chicago where restaurants were discussing the big language models needed to take people’s orders. He gave the example of a Wendy’s drive through, where people’s orders don’t always match the company name for the product.

“So those big language models need to be able to process the different ways people order so they figure out how to put that order as accurately as possible,” Korsmo said.

“It’s really about how we can do it to improve the customer experience, and in a drive-thru environment, the customer experience is all about speed, consistency and accuracy.”

Korsmo said AI can make a substantial difference in hiring practices. AI technology can screen candidates so that companies can respond to candidates in a more timely manner and even arrange an interview.

For airlines, Kirby said AI technology can help airlines communicate directly with customers and avoid miscommunication.

Smith’s startup is primarily focused on using AI to collect data to “build Google Maps for supply chains,” he said.

The technology he pioneered connects previously isolated data and creates a “shared source of truth.” One could theoretically ask a machine, Smith said, “‘What happens to my business if China invades Taiwan?’ and have that response contextualized.

Iannone said eBay has been using AI technology for years, but its efforts have recently expanded.

eBay has a beta test available for sellers, Iannone said, that will identify products and write product descriptions for them.

Iannone said that if a seller finds an old remote they can’t identify, eBay’s AI technology automatically writes the description of the device, so a potential buyer looking for that remote can buy it.

“What I’m excited about is what AI will do to unlock the ability for our sellers to bring more of that inventory to the platform,” Iannone said, adding that the average household has $4,000 worth of items that could be sold on eBay and less than 20 percent are sold.

In the retail space, Shay said he sees “huge potential benefits” for retailers, but he also warned of the “potential harm.”

“I think there are huge potential benefits for retailers, in terms of providing personalized and personalized experiences and increasing the efficiency of customer engagement, improving supply chain efficiency and improving sustainability successes,” he said.

While echoing the calls for regulation, Shay said he is not optimistic that lawmakers will take action, adding, “It really falls to all of us who will be impacted, as citizens and as stakeholders, to encourage congressional leaders to enact a appropriate roadmap to ensure we get the most out of the promise of AI, without getting the worst out of the danger.”

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