Machine learning … It’s the buzzword everyone is selling but what the heck does it actually mean?
Allow me to illustrate. My fiancé and I just built a house, exciting times! Being the techie I am, we had to retrofit it to be the complete smart home. One of my first purchases was a smart thermostat that touts machine learning and how it will save you money. Sound familiar?
After being zapped hooking the thing up (note to self: turn off the power before messing with the wires) I had a brand-new thermostat. The first day I found myself tweaking it every now and then. Of course, it had no idea that I liked to sleep cold. I adjusted it and turned it down before bed the first few nights. Sure enough, the thermostat started adjusting itself and kicking in exactly when I wanted it to. When I checked the app during the day it knew I was not home and turned itself off. Not bad!
What’s actually happening?
When I hooked this thing up, I started with a clean slate. Every adjustment I made or didn’t make started compiling data in the background. Every minute it’s recording that temperature and building out a repository of my preferences and making recommendations for me. Once I taught the machine that I liked to sleep cold every night, it saved that data and every night at 9 p.m. it turned the heat off. The machine was getting smarter as I used it. It was using my preferences and changes to build predictable habits over time.
Enough about the thermostats … what does this have to do with orders?
Great point, let’s tie it all together. Imagine that same story but instead of your temperature preferences imagine your orders. Similar to how my thermostat turns off when I’m not there, an AI (Artificial Intelligence) engine knows keywords and general areas to pull data on orders. There are immediate efficiency gains.
Imagine that troublesome customer. They send in different item numbers every time and their order format always changes. Similar to how I like to sleep cold (that’s saying something in a Wisconsin winter) that’s not something my thermostat could predict off the bat. But after adjusting it the first few nights, the thermostat remembered that tweak and made it moving forward.
Real world example
Back to that troublesome customer that sends in manufacturers SKU’s or their own item numbers on every order. When that order comes in and you change the item number to your own internal item, AI starts to build out that correlation and every time you receive that SKU, it will automatically make the change moving forward!
Previous technology required data to be in a certain spot on the document or, even worse, a specific template. Machine learning remembers where the data is in every single order and allows customers to send in orders without changing a thing.
Moral of the story
A few months in, I’m so happy with my smart thermostat that I’m promoting it on a company blog. It’s running on autopilot and making changes for me automatically. It’s saving me money by turning off when I’m not home and saving me time by never having to touch it.
Other folks can gain the same advantages in order management by leveraging a (you know what I’m about to say) AI-driven solution. Instead of “tweaking the thermostat all day” it empowers customer service teams to focus on what matters — your customers — while saving your company big bucks.