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In 2016, the artificial intelligence and machine learning hype cycle reached fever pitch. We’ve been here before; it seems as if revolutionary artificial intelligence has been on the cusp of reality for decades. It’s understandable that many in the eCommerce world are skeptical, particularly smaller eCommerce merchants who have to be careful where they invest resources.
Although the benefits of AI / ML are often overblown, it’s clear that it will make — and is already making — a real difference. The contrast between this and other “AI changes everything” hype cycles is significant. The technology in the limited domains relevant to eCommerce has advanced enormously: we’re better at data analytics on huge scales, we’re better at natural language processing and pattern recognition, we’re better at building cheap and scalable infrastructure, and the market has matured: many companies offer products and services that use AI / ML to provide real-world benefits to retailers without requiring a phD in computer science.
Artificial intelligence is the application of automated systems to decision making, the discovery of solutions, and the delivery of insights. That sounds great, but it doesn’t mean anything without practical applications, and, in 2017, there’s no shortage of eCommerce companies and solution …
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