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Humans are good at a lot of things, but analyzing thousands of lines of data quickly and comprehensively isn’t one of them. Our brains can only hold so much information, and they weren’t exactly designed to process it at the scale that modern business demands. Thankfully, the human brain is perfectly capable of designing machines that can perform those tasks for us.

Artificial intelligence can sift through enormous data sets to identify patterns and anomalies and predict future events based on those patterns. This unlocks new strategic advantages, as businesses that know how to deploy those tools skillfully will leap ahead of competitors that don’t.

The question is no longer whether to take advantage of AI’s burgeoning capabilities, but how. There are a lot of different arrows in the AI quiver, and since each business has different pain points and goals, it’s important to find an AI solution that fits.

With that in mind, let's look at how AI and machine learning helped turn the tables for one of Columbus's clients.


A Dairy Good Example: How Columbus Helped a Mid-Sized Business Milk the Benefits of AI


Columbus recently worked with a dairy company based in Ohio that produces a wide range of products, from milk to yogurt to ice cream. All these products have one big thing in common: short shelf lives.

One of the trickiest challenges for this kind of business is predicting customer demand. If a demand forecast is inaccurate, the company may have to sell their products at a substantial discount for them to move fast enough to avoid spoilage and waste.

The good news is that after working with Columbus on AI implementation, this dairy company was able to draw on machine learning insights to dramatically improve the accuracy of their forecasts — which in turn reduced their waste. It also allowed them to take advantage of demand bubbles that the AI was able to identify through sophisticated analysis, but which human analysts might have missed.


The AI Breakthrough Toolkit


Implementing an AI-driven strategy should start with a comprehensive assessment and analysis of your company's needs and business goals. That should include conversations with stakeholders throughout the organization to identify the ways that AI can extend their capabilities and remove obstacles.

You also need make sure that your data is clean, coherent, and consistent, and that you have good practices in place for handling and protecting it as you make it accessible to your team members in a centralized database. Columbus can help you guide you through this process by drawing on insights gained from many previous implementations.

Once the process is under way, you’ll need to decide which AI tools and capabilities you want to use. Here are just some of your options:

Forecasting Demand and Sales

One of AI's greatest gifts is its ability to help you see the road ahead more clearly. Sometimes it can even reveal what's lurking around the corner. Forecasting customer demand (as in the case of the dairy company above) is just one application for this ability, allowing you scale production up and down as needed.

AI tools can also help you better visualize forecasting data and communicate it more effectively throughout the organization, enabling better decision-making.

Supply Chain Management

The combination of IoT sensors, connected devices, and machine learning provides greater visibility into every stage of the supply chain. This means you can detect and solve problems before they get out of control, all while continuously improving the process.

AI tools also enable better communication and closer collaboration with vendors, subcontractors, and other partners. And with Digital Twins technology, you can even create a virtual model of your supply chain, making it easier to game out what-if scenarios for disruption, identify solutions, and put response plans in place.

Predicting and Managing Churn

AI can help dramatically reduce customer churn by analyzing purchase patterns and other behaviors to identify customers who are at risk of being lost to competitors. When AI flags a customer who seems to be drifting away, you can rescue the relationship with a well-timed sales call or promotion.

AI can also be used to limit employee churn by evaluating the risk of losing certain valuable workers to another organization and giving you a chance to make moves to keep them around. Especially in a tight labor market, it's more cost-effective to retain existing employees than to hire new ones, so this can pay off on multiple levels.


Managing Costs and Improving Cash Flow

Better visibility, forecasting, and planning can all contribute to better cost management and a healthier cash flow for your business. AI tools can help you keep a closer eye on the costs of labor and materials, and allow you to manage inventory more efficiently.

AI also makes it possible to continuously monitor and analyze customer payment patterns, so you can proactively communicate with customers who are struggling to pay on time and work with them to get back on track.

Optimizing Pricing Strategy

Faster and better analysis of customer and sales data can help you develop and fine-tune a more sophisticated pricing strategy to maximize your sales and increase your profit margin.

Product Development and Quality

AI tools not only help model and design better products, but you can also use data from IoT sensors to monitor and improve the quality of products that are already in production.

Automating Low-Level Tasks and Extending Employee Capabilities

AI can free up your team members to focus on higher-level work by automating repetitive, time-sucking tasks. For example, AI can create and summarize documents, analyze data in spreadsheets, generate code, create images, and more.

AI tools can also help team members perform advanced tasks that might otherwise be outside their skillsets, such as automating workflows, building apps, and creating intelligent chatbots through the use of low code/no code software.

Predictive Maintenance

By monitoring real-time IoT data from equipment, AI can help anticipate potential malfunctions and breakdowns so you can address them with preventative maintenance before they happen, which in turn helps minimize delays and downtime.

Strengthening Security

One way that machine learning can boost security is through a fraud detection algorithm that can recognize suspicious behavior that doesn't align with usual patterns. AI-enabled tools can also shore up your institutional defenses, helping you prevent, detect, and respond to cyberattacks successfully.


Which AI Tools are Right for Your Business?

The possibilities of artificial intelligence are so vast that it can be difficult to pinpoint the right tools for your organization. An experienced AI implementation partner like Columbus can help you put together a toolkit that is tailored to your company’s needs.

If you’d like to learn more about how Columbus can help your organization fully harness AI’s myriad capabilities, get in touch with us today.


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