The past several years have thrown numerous challenges at consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies. The pandemic has led to shifting consumer channel preferences, a supply chain crunch, and cost pressure, to name just a few. CPG titan Unilever has been answering the challenge with analytics and artificial intelligence (AI).

The 93-year-old, London-based CPG company is the world’s largest soap producer. Its products include food and condiments, toothpaste, beauty products and much more, including brands like Dove, Hellmann’s, and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Alessandro Ventura, CIO and vice president of analytics and business services for North America at Unilever, has been at the forefront of helping the company apply AI to its businesses for years. While originally in the role of IT director, he has since added analytics and people services to his portfolio.

“That’s everything from facility management, fleet management, employee and facilities services, and people data, and that kind of stuff,” Ventura explains.

Unilever believes AI is not a technology of tomorrow. It’s already being widely used, and Ventura feels all industries will need to adapt to it.

In recent months, Unilever has developed a number of new technology applications to help its lines of business in the markets of tomorrow. One of the most important is “Alex,” short for Alexander the Great. Alex, powered by ChatGPT, filters emails in Unilever’s Consumer Engagement Center, sorting spam from real consumer messages. For the legitimate messages, it then recommends responses to Unilever’s human agents.

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