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Study: Data is the first — and hardest — step in AI implementation

artificial intelligence
Nearly 70% of retailers see an AI-powered retail management system as crucial.

Data quality issues and overcoming data silos are the top challenges for AI implementation.

Nearly seven out of ten business and IT leaders see AI as critical to their organization’s ability to improve the customer experience, grow revenue, boost productivity and drive a host of operational efficiencies,  but everything from data collection and integrity to organizational resistance is holding them back, according to the findings of a recent study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Epicor. The study is based on a survey of 205 North American retail business and IT decision-makers with responsibility for technology decisions at their company. 

The study found that the biggest hurdles stopping retailers from implementing AI are data collection and data quality issues. Specifically, 77% of respondents noted that their organization struggles to gain actionable insights from the data it collects, and 67% report they’re unable to collect any usable data to help gain better business insights. 

Other findings from the “AI Will Transform Retail — But Success Hinges On Tech, Data, And Process” study are below.

•While the biggest technical challenge of AI implementation is data quality, 70% said their organization needs more education around AI retail solutions, and 65% stated they struggle to keep up with new AI technologies. Nearly 60% of respondents noted that investing in these new technologies is too complicated due to issues such as training for new AI technology offerings, managing opposition from the workforce, and overcoming organizational resistance to change.

•Most retailers understand that AI can help them achieve their goals, but many are still at the beginning of their AI implementation journeys. For example, spend management is the process with the highest levels of advanced AI usage — but only 34%  of respondents are doing so. Processes such as receiving and sales, and operation planning, see the lowest usage with less than 20% of respondents leveraging advanced AI.

•Nearly 70% of retailers see an AI-powered retail management system as crucial — if their organization also could use that system to forecast demand and to manage accounting and inventory.

•When retail leaders were asked how much of an impact an AI-powered management system might have on key business processes, 76% anticipate a positive impact on customer processes and supply chain management, 69% foresee positive impacts to demand forecasting, and 67% said the same for inventory management.

“Our survey of retail leaders makes it crystal clear that they urgently want to harness AI for their businesses. It’s equally evident that they are struggling to overcome a host of obstacles,” said Marco de Vries, VP of product marketing at Epicor. “Whether it’s to automate and improve operations or to gather actionable insights for demand forecasting, reordering, and inventory, the first step for retailers in realizing the value of AI is gaining a better understanding of the available landscape and beginning to tackle any underlying data quality and collection issues.”

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