10 Acquisition International - July 2017 Blue Yonder, included in the 2017 European Excellence Awards, helps automate complex decisions that deliver higher profits and customer value, using artificial intelligence (AI). We interviewed the firm’s Marketing Director, Dunja Riemann to find out more. Firstly, can you give a flavour of what the firm does? Blue Yonder enables retailers to take a transformative approach to their core processes, automating complex decisions that deliver higher profits and customer value, using artificial intelligence (AI). With machine learning embedded into their core operational systems, retailers can respond more quickly to changing market conditions and customer dynamics. With its roots in particle physics at CERN, Blue Yonder now works for international grocery, fashion and general merchandise retailers. What is your approach when undertaking a new client or project? How do you ensure right from the start that the outcome meets the needs of everyone involved? When taking on a new client or project Blue Yonder ensures that it is completely aligned with the customer’s goals. By listening to what clients would like to achieve, as a company we can then optimise our offering and tailor strategy to guarantee that these goals are met, and where possible, exceeded. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the technological vehicle we use to drive achievements for clients. AI allows to take decisions that humans simply could not so that retailers can for example optimise pricing which, in turn, allows them to enhance their own customer’s experiences through fairer pricing. We appreciate that the implementation of AI often requires a complete overhaul of existing ways of working, but the investment allows staff to work smarter. And it is key that we work with our customers to help them to navigate and understand the benefits of working alongside AI automation. Tell me about your business and your ongoing strategy. What techniques do you employ to ensure that you achieve this? Blue Yonder allows companies to automate millions of decisions using AI. AI is the future of retail and our strategy is to educate companies on how automation, enables better decisions to be made, based on holistic data, and frees up workers’ time so that they can focus closer on delivering better services to customers. To achieve this, we automate the supply chain for our clients as well as merchandising processes, this enables the business to make millions of decisions each day, something humans would not be able to do at such a granular level. An example of this achievement can be seen with our recent work with Morrison’s, where AI helped to reduce shelf gaps by 30%. The implementation also allows Morrison’s to make 430 million calculations and 13 million automatic decisions every single day – at far greater scale, and more accurately and consistently than previously. Company: Blue Yonder Contact: Dunja Riemann Contact Email: blueyonder@ fieldworksmarketing.co.uk A Transformative Approach F 1707AI15 How does it feel to be selected in the 2017 European Excellence Awards? We feel honoured. As AI is getting more immersed in peoples’ daily lives – from the creation of the news we read online to fraud detection on our banking apps – Blue Yonder is proud to be recognised as a market leader and key part in servicing AI for retailers to develop their businesses and enhance customer experiences, both online and in-store. What are your thoughts on the state of your industry currently? Are there any issues/ changes that are affecting it? The retail market is in a constant state of change. But never has the industry been more exciting or fluid than today; customers are consistently changing the way they shop and are now moulding the way that retailers operate as a result. The market is also driven by dominant market leaders like Amazon which has built its business model on a data driven approach and is continuing to acquire other brands in a variety of industries – such as the grocery chain Whole Foods to better understand and serve the customer. This dominance can prove challenging for smaller businesses to compete with as they won’t have the luxury of being able to cope with minimal margins, but this is where Blue Yonder can help. AI ensures retailers, no matter how small can cost effectively make the right decisions to improve the bottom line and maximise margins. What challenges and opportunities have you faced during your time here and how have they affected your role? The constant change of the retail landscape is both a challenge and an opportunity. To make the most of these opportunities it’s essential that departments within Blue Yonder collaborate towards a central goal of driving businesses forward, listening to customers and providing the technology needed to ensure success for our clients. What are your future aspirations regarding your business? Do you have any future plans you would like to share with us? Blue Yonder has some exciting prospective projects lined up this year, including the next stage of AI implementation for Morrison’s – so watch this space! Looking to your specific industry or sector, are there any key developments you foresee and how will your business adapt around these? Absolutely, Blue Yonder is constantly expanding to reach fresh marketplaces, the business plans to continue focus on the retail sector for the time being and will then look to expand in a next step into CPG. Do you have anything to add further? Yes, it’s important to state that machines will not replace humans, instead they will help to make people’s lives easier.