Tech Tuesdays: IBM’s Latest Gen AI Research

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In this week’s tech news, platform integration and generative AI (gen AI) are top of mind.

PTC and MakerSights Aim to Revolutionize Retail

In a significant advancement for retail brand operations, PTC has announced the successful outcomes of its ongoing collaboration with MakerSights, marked by the introduction of a standardized connector that enhances seamless data integration between PTC’s PLM solution, FlexPLM, and the prominent consumer feedback platform. The aim is to improve efficiencies while mitigating mistakes.

This integration, powered by PTC’s Flex Connect solution, facilitates real-time synchronization of product data between FlexPLM and MakerSights. It ensures product creation and merchandising teams can access consistent data across platforms, dramatically reducing the risk of errors and removing the burden of manual tasks. This streamlined process supports brands in constructing and maintaining optimal product assortments by closely aligning consumer feedback with relevant product data.

PTC said retail brands, such as Madewell, have already seen tangible benefits from this integration. Grace Brooks, divisional merchandise director at Madewell, said integrating MakerSights with FlexPLM “transformed our approach to testing new products and finalizing assortments, accelerating our decision-making process and amplifying our confidence, thanks to consumer-specific feedback.”

This collaboration eliminates restrictive data silos while connecting critical digital tools along a brand’s value chain and encouraging cross-functional collaboration within a unified digital environment. With data continuously fed from FlexPLM into MakerSights and workflow automation enhanced, the integration setup time is cut down by 75 percent.

Bill Brewster, senior vice president and general manager of PTC’s Retail Business Unit, emphasized the importance of this integration to modern retail said the company’s collaboration with MakerSights “epitomizes the necessity for interconnectivity in the fast-paced retail product development sector, where the goal is to enhance agility and expedite market delivery.”

This digital thread accelerates product cycle times, improving both sustainability and profitability — objectives that are paramount for today’s brands. Stakeholders across product, merchandising, and functional teams now benefit from an always-updated view of in-development assortments, incorporating both consumer sentiment and internal feedback to hasten lifecycle decisions and reduce risks tied to overproduction.

Dan Leahy, co-founder and CEO of MakerSights, highlighted their dedication to supporting informed decision-making: “Our partnership with FlexPLM demonstrates our commitment to delivering actionable insights, contextualized within a brand’s product data, that empower teams to make well-informed decisions swiftly,” he said.

This strategic integration sets a new standard in product lifecycle management and decision-making efficiency, underscoring PTC and MakerSights’ leadership in providing cutting-edge solutions that sync with dynamic market needs.

IBM Study Spotlights CEO Challenges in Scaling Generative AI

The latest research from IBM Institute for Business Value revealed “significant challenges” that CEOs face as they deploy and scale generative AI. Based on a global survey of 3,000 CEOs across over 30 countries and 26 industries, the annual IBM C-Suite Study underscores a pressing focus on people and culture over the underlying technologies.

Of those polled, 64 percent said they view the successful implementation of gen AI as predominantly dependent on employee adoption rather than the technology. Despite this, a striking 61 percent of respondents acknowledged to be accelerating the adoption of gen AI faster than some employees are comfortable with — potentially risking internal pushback.

Matt Candy, global managing partner at IBM Consulting, said this is “an era of great excitement around generative AI. CEOs are eager to move beyond mere hype to realize tangible business impacts. Success hinges significantly on having the right cultural groundwork and leading employees effectively through these technological changes.”

Another concern among CEOs is whether their teams possess the requisite skills for gen AI integration. Of those polled, 63 percent said they believe their teams are capable, yet a significant portion hasn’t fully grasped how such technologies affect their workforce and organizational culture. Fifty-six of those polled said have yet to evaluate the repercussions on their current employees, even though half of them (51 percent) are incorporating new roles dedicated to generative AI, and 47 percent anticipate a workforce reduction or redeployment within the coming year.

Additionally, the study unveils broader concerns about workforce strain due to rapid AI adoption, with 40 percent of CEOs planning to hire more staff, but 53 percent report difficulties in filling vital technology positions. Moreover, a substantial increase in the need for retraining is forecasted, with 35 percent of the workforce requiring new skills within the next three years, a significant jump from just 6 percent in 2021.

The CEOs also highlighted the importance of cultural adaptation for AI scalability but pointed out setbacks, such as insufficient collaboration at the top management level and a lack of clarity for employees on strategic decisions. Fifty seven said they believe that a cultural shift is crucial for evolving into a data-driven organization, more so than overcoming technological barriers.

Manhattan Associates Launches AI-Driven Customer Service Solutions

Manhattan Associates Inc. unveiled two solutions that incorporate cutting-edge generative AI (gen AI) technology that aims to transform customer service interactions. The announcement includes the introduction of Manhattan Active Maven and Manhattan Assist, which are designed to empower businesses to significantly improve consumer and user experiences while managing operational costs effectively.

Manhattan Active Maven is the latest addition, built natively into the company’s industry-leading omnichannel commerce platform. It represents the first gen AI-driven customer service chatbot crafted to provide native access to critical operational data such as orders, payments, and product availabilities. This innovative tool utilizes large language models (LLMs) for generating dynamic, personalized responses, mimicking humanlike interactions for both pre- and post-purchase customer experiences.

Designed for seamless integration, retailers can easily implement Maven on their websites without the need for complex rules or scripts.

Ellie Crawford, director of product management at Manhattan Associates, said gen AI “is one of the most transformative technologies we’ve seen in years, promising to revolutionize customer service experiences. Manhattan Active Maven and Manhattan Assist showcase exciting applications of this technology in the realms of supply chain and commerce.”

Additionally, Manhattan introduced Manhattan Assist, another gen AI-powered feature enhancing Manhattan Active solutions. This virtual assistant offers users instant contextual support on product functionalities, API structures, and setup summaries of Manhattan Active applications. Manhattan Assist is included in all Manhattan Active Solution subscriptions, providing accessible, platform-level assistance tailored to various user roles and functions.

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