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August 13, 2019 | By

AI IRL Podcast Episode 30: Why AI Should Augment Human Capability…Not Replace It


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Often times, people get caught up in technology for technology’s sake. But we should really be using technology more strategically to help us do one thing: make better decisions.

With 25 years of experience, Gary Saarenvirta, Founder and CEO of Daisy Intelligence, is an expert at doing exactly that — implementing technology to help companies make better decisions. Daisy is focused on delivering AI powered technology that helps retailers make decisions that drive higher sales and profits.

Gary came on the latest episode of AI:IRL to talk about the work he’s doing at Daisy, how you can leverage AI to make better decisions, and why we should view AI as augmenting human capabilities instead of replacing them.

Here’s what he had to say.

All about Daisy

Daisy’s focus is to help clients with business processes and decisions that are beyond human capability.

There’s some of those decisions in every industry.

Think about a retailer.

The typical retailer probably has 50,000 to 100,000 products, hundreds of stores, multiple websites, mobile channels, and millions of customers.

Now think about the types of decisions that retailer has to make when it comes to pricing, promotion, and forecasting. There are way too many moving parts for a human to even begin to optimize that decision.

That’s where Daisy comes in. Their vision is to use machine intelligence to help make those tough decisions. That frees up the people to work on things that computers can’t do.

“AI is really statistics rebranded.” — Gary Saarenvirta

Turning data into a decision

People are drowning in data.

There’s so much data out there — on your website, in your supply chain, covering your marketing programs.

But that data isn’t enough.

You have to have a system that delivers a decision that the business can directly execute.

Let’s go back to our product mix example. It’s a complex problem to solve, filled with lots of data. Daisy does the analysis. And it offers a decision…one that actually delivers results.

Customers that have executed on Daisy decisions have been able to grow total company sales by 3 to 5%. And in retail, that’s huge.

While AI is a very exciting trend and opportunity, if you’re not looking at it through that lens of business application, you could be applying bad tech to bad process. Which only leads to bad outcomes.

Augmentation vs. replacement

“I’m against using AI to do what people are great at.” — Gary Saarenvirta

As mentioned above, Daisy’s vision is to use machine intelligence to make tough decisions so that humans are freed up to work on things that computers can’t. 

It’s not about replacing the human.

It’s about using AI where it’s more effective than a human so the human can work where they’re more effective than AI.

So, where’s that line? Where is AI more effective than a human?

AI is good for business decisions that are mathematical, complex, repetitive, and high volume. Imagine you’re a retailer trying to decide what combination of products you should sell at what price. If you have 100,000 products and ten price zones, that’s a million data points right there. This is a complex, mathematical decision, with a high volume of data. And it’s one that isn’t made just once — it’s repetitive and relentless.

This is the type of scenario where computers excel.

And what about humans?

We tend to excel where there’s ambiguity or creativity. So, things like strategy, product innovation, interacting with other people, communication, and negotiation.

So, it’s not about using AI to do what people are great at.

It’s about applying technology in ways that help humans make decisions…decisions that really make a difference.

This discussion with Gary Saarenvirta was taken from our AI: In Real Life. If you want to hear more AI episodes like this one, check us out on iTunes here.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can also find every episode here.


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