Ai Is Everywhere If You Know Where To Look

In late August 2019, Dr. Sekar Jaganathan was invited to speak at IASA’s and MDEC’s Enterprise Architecture and Artificial Intelligence conference. As the Director of Digital Strategy at the largest independent investment bank in the country, Dr. Sekar shared, “In my perspective, digital strategy is all about marketing; not only how you market but most importantly who you market to.” He also tapped into his role as honorary advisor of SEGI-MIMOS’s centre of excellence for Artificial Intelligence, to share cases of AI in our day-to-day lives, and even at work.

There was an  interesting use of computer vision in retail whereby when you are shopping, a digital advertisement specially designed for you would display on the supermarket shelf you are looking at. This is happening currently at Kroger’s chain of grocery stores, in the US.

“You may think that your shopping mall doesn’t know you, but now it’s possible for advertisements on digital signboards, for example, to change based on who you are,” he said. Computer vision is a field of study to help computers ‘see’ an image and understand its contents. One simple example of computer vision is face detection which some smartphone models are able to do. (1) In Kroger’s example, computer vision vastly reduces the amount of resources spent on annotating large sets of customer data.

“What they’ve done also is gone beyond the data that they have. Let’s say you buy certain food for a few months. Based on the combination of food that a customer buys, they can correlate this to worldwide data and detect if perhaps you have a lifestyle disease, for example diabetes,” Dr. Sekar explained.

The next time you are shopping, they will recommend a snack that that you will probably like, but with reduced amounts of sugar. So, the advertisement does not seem like an advertisement anymore, but becomes more like a suggestion from a caring  family member.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

IKEA is another example of a retail brand that successfully uses technology, this time augmented reality (AR), to “try out” a furniture in your home, before you visit the store to buy it. Dr. Sekar shared, “Many businesses do this already in Malaysia. For instance, a furniture manufacturer works with an interior designer, to help potential customers visualise their newly decorated property. So, with AR simulation, it is possible to have life-like experiences at a fraction of the cost.”

For example, IKEA customers can save on trips to the store and be assured that the furniture they eventually buy, will blend in with the rest of the furniture at home. Also, the furniture manufacturer can produce pieces that are according to a customer’s preference without any wastage.

Smart-based content and marketing

Yet another use of AI is exemplified by Articoolo which creates content that will compel readers to click a link to find out more. AI-generated content is becoming more mainstream with news organisations like BBC and New York Times (NYT) already utilising them.

Dr. Sekar explained, “It is nothing about exposing news, but about monetising content, because when a reader clicks on a link, it leads to ads and revenue. Content generation and curation is more efficient with AI, not to mention human emotion is detached from the article.”

Machine learning can also aid knowledge workers in the customer support industry. The machine learning-based Chorus solution, is a coaching agent which trains sales people to be a “chorus” of a high-performing sales star.  Email marketing solutions like Persado also benefits from machine learning technologies. We usually hear of email campaigns that are personalised in content, but Persado will customise the time and frequency of these email deliveries.

“If the content you send is relevant to the reader, persistence is important. But if it’s not relevant to them, it is a bother. So, if you want to stand out in 2019, you need to personalise your marketing, your content, your products, and more.” Dr. Sekar said.

True AI

“AI and tech adoption have gone beyond what IT people are talking about, and we haven’t even started to talk about true AI. True AI can happen, but how much of it do we want, that is right for us? People need to be aware of how much AI is already in their lives before they can see how they can evolve it,” he concluded.

Catherine Yong

Catherine Yong is the Head of Publications at 7C Life RealiZation Centre ( an organisation that is aimed at teaching people to achieve clarity of mind and live successful lives by practising mindfulness.