Delivering Ethical Ai: Key Insights from IBM for Retail

Produced by


Aravind Narasimhan

Vice President - Global Omnichannel and Customer Engagement, Tapestry

Chris Broadbent

Head of Technology Services and Operations management, Next 

Heather Gentile

Director of watsonx.governance, IBM 

Samir Amellal

Chief Information Officer & Chief Data Officer, Auchan Retail 

Heather Gentile, Director of watsonx.governance at IBM set the stage by highlighting crucial themes such as ethics, sustainability, ROI, customer experience, and AI governance. Steering the discussion with retail practitioners, she made a casse on how retailers can improve decision making by deploying AI with confidence and trust while making sense of vast amounts of past and present data. As the conversation unfolded, each panelist provided insights into their organization's AI journey and the opportunities they seek to harness with AI.

Chris Broadbent, Head of Technology Services and Operations Management at Next (British multinational clothing, footwear and home products retailer), shared their initial steps in integrating AI into their contact center technology, emphasizing the importance of trust in AI systems, especially when directly interacting with consumers. He emphasized the need for prioritizing effort and building trust gradually, recognizing the complexity of ensuring AI systems consistently deliver desired outcomes.

Samir Amellal, Chief Information Officer & Chief Data Officer at Auchan Retail (French retailer), shed light on their innovative use of AI in supply chain management, particularly with the implementation of smart green pallets. These pallets, leveraging IoT, cloud services, blockchain, and AI, aim to optimize logistics, reduce waste, and enhance sustainability. He emphasized the importance of managing risks associated with AI while leveraging its transformative potential.

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Aravind Narasimhan, Vice President - Global Omnichannel and Customer Engagement at Tapestry (fashion giant with over 1,400 directly operated stores), emphasized the significance of AI in enhancing customer engagement and operational efficiency. With a focus on personalization and real-time inventory visibility, Tapestry aims to curate cohesive customer experiences across various touchpoints. Narasimhan highlighted the importance of trustworthiness and explainability in AI systems, essential for building consumer confidence.

Throughout the discussion, the panelists underscored the vast potential of AI in retail, spanning demand forecasting, supply chain optimization, customer engagement, and more. However, they also acknowledged the associated risks, including security, regulatory compliance, and ethical considerations.

Chris Broadbent emphasized the need for effective AI governance and the deployment of guardrails to ensure responsible AI adoption. He highlighted the challenge of designing AI systems that can be trusted to manage critical relationships with consumers and other stakeholders.

Samir Amellal echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the need for robust frameworks to manage risks associated with AI adoption. He viewed AI not as a risk but as an opportunity, provided effective controls and governance mechanisms are in place.

Looking to the future, the panelists envisioned AI playing an increasingly pivotal role in retail operations, from hyper-personalized marketing to predictive analytics for event management. However, they emphasized the importance of continuous innovation, collaboration, and ethical considerations in shaping the future of AI in retail.

With AI governance gaining prominence as a critical enabler of ethical and responsible AI adoption, the discussion underscored the need for a holistic approach to AI integration in the retail sector.

MAR 2024