This story appears in the June 12 print edition of iTECH, a supplement to Transport Topics.
Although it’ll be a while before we all have an IBM Watson supercomputer sitting on our desktops, there are a number of artificial intelligence business tools truckers can use right now that will help you run smarter, faster and ahead of the competition. Essentially, these next-generation wonders tap into the ability of artificial intelligence to do a lot of the thinking and strategizing for you.
“We started to invest more in AI in 2015 and just launched a business unit, Driven Analytic Solutions, that is bringing some of these breakthroughs to other carriers and partners,” said Richard Cribbs, executive vice president at Covenant Transportation Group.
“Some of our innovations in AI exist around our weather-routing engine,” he said, further describing the use of AI as “a unique approach to route compliance and predictive technologies in key risk areas such as safety and retention of our professional drivers.”
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Over at Swift Transportation, Vice President Mike Ruchensky said the trucking company also is using basic AI tools in its back-office operations and for gathering information from around the web.
Intermodal firm IMC Cos. also sees AI as a burgeoning competitive advantage, said Joel Tracy, chief information officer.
“While AI tools will not replace employees, those tools will allow team members to spend less time handling routine business and will provide more time for employees to handle more complex tasks,” Tracy said. “We continually explore how AI and other various technologies can help our business to consistently function as efficiently and effectively as possible.”
David Roush, president of KSM Transport Advisors, added: “Artificial intelligence is the core of what lets us play ‘Moneyball’ with our clients’ freight networks. These tools shift the decision-making process from 20% science and 80% art to 80% science and 20% art. This allows the decision makers to make faster and more intelligent decisions.”
Tom Benusa, chief information officer at Transport America, said: “The attraction of deploying an AI tool would be that it could analyze results independent of human feedback and increase the accuracy and functionality of future results.”
“I’m sure AI tools will advance leaps and bounds over the next five years,” said Jacob Lliteras, marketing manager at John Christner Trucking.
Of course, when it comes to AI, it’s always your call if you want to trust your key decision-making to an entity whose heart literally beats with all the warmth of an Intel multiprocessor.
But if you’re curious about what the future of business software will look like, here’s sampling of what’s coming down the pike.
• AI App Makers
You can start dabbling in artificial intelligence right now for free with open-source software such as Datumbox. Targeted to companies with one or more programmers on staff — or an extremely brave PC power-user — Datum is an AI platform that enables you to design and build your own AI apps from scratch.
Specific AI tools you can create with Datumbox include sentiment analyzers and text readability analysis.
AI sentiment analyzers enable you to unleash an app on the web, social media and similar digital locations that will see what people are saying about your trucking company or products and services — and also determine if the sentiments behind those posts are positive, negative or neutral.
AI text readability analysis can be used to ensure your company’s marketing copy is extremely accessible — or conversely, appeals to a more discriminating audience. Similar AI software includes Lexalytics and Bitext.
• AI Video Editing
Windows Story Remix, promised for release later this year, will be one of the first video editing tools on the market driven by artificial intelligence.
With Remix, you can create a marketing video for your trucking business from scratch, or you can tap its AI tools to have it create one for you.
Essentially, the tool is designed to sense the kind of video you want after you input raw video, still photographs, animations, soundtrack and the like.
After you’ve dropped in the raw media, Remix grabs it and automatically whips up a finished video, which you can use as is — or tweak further with its editing tools.
AI perks with the program include the ability to signal to Remix who you want the star of the video to be and Remix’s ability to create video cuts that are designed to match the beat of any song you include as a song track.
The software also offers collaboration tools that allow a number of users to work on a video together.
Remix is slated to pop up as a Windows app in the Windows store late in 2017 and also will be available on iOS and Android.
• AI Dashboard Maker
One of AI’s notable characteristics is its ability to retrieve data from all corners of the web and then package the information in easy-to-understand, graphic dashboards.
Qlik, for example, enables you to develop AI dashboards that can monitor dozens, hundreds or even thousands of websites and web properties across cyberspace and then bring back all the data generated at those sites for instant analysis.
With Qlik, you’ll be able to compare and contrast the performance of all your websites in terms of clicks, visits, purchases, successful calls to action and more.
Plus, the software promises to bring back associations and insights you may not have thought of to consider. Similar products include Metric Insights and Tableau.
• AI Self-Designing Websites
The grim fact is not all of us are Da Vincis in the making. Fortunately, with Grid — an online service that will autodesign a website for you — that doesn’t matter anymore when it comes to designing your online business presence.
With Grid, you simply upload the content you want on your website — text, images and video — and the service does the rest, placing everything just where it’s supposed to go.
Once all of your components are in place, you also have the ability to tweak the resulting design. You can get an in-depth look at how Grid works with its introductory video on YouTube. A similar online service is Wix.
• AI Call Center Matchmaker
Any trucking exec who has winced listening to a call center representative clashing with a customer will want to look into Affiniti.
Designed to find “birds-of-a-feather” personality matches between your call center reps and your customers, Affiniti processes more than 1 billion calculations a second in its never-ending quest to sniff out the personality of anyone who happens to be calling your trucking business.
Essentially, the AI software works by retrieving, storing and analyzing psychographic and demographic data on customers across the United States, which it sources from the world’s identity data brokers, including Allant, Axciom, Experian, Facebook, LinkedIn and Targus.
Specific data Affiniti most likely knows about you include your income level, credit card usage, profession, gender, telecommunication usage patterns, responsiveness to marketing, political persuasion and travel habits.
Meanwhile, Affiniti analyzes the other side of the equation — the personalities of your call center reps — by studying how your reps interact with customers over a 60- to 90-day period and by crunching data from a 20-minute survey that you can administer to your call center reps when they’re first hired.
The result is a perfect world, where you get a match made in bits-and-bytes heaven, which you hope will result in a better customer service experience and perhaps heavier sales.
• AI Early Warning Lawsuit Alerter
When it comes to lawsuits, the only thing better than an attorney who strikes sheer terror in the opposition is one who can scope out potential lawsuits before they happen — and steer you clear of any trouble.
That’s the premise behind Intraspexion, a lawsuit-prevention software program developed by seasoned attorney Nick Brestoff.
Intraspexion works by relentlessly analyzing every single e-mail your employees send or receive from the outside world and then studying those e-mails for telltale signs of trouble ahead.
As soon as it finds an e-mail it believes could be the start of an impending lawsuit, it instantly alerts your attorney or in-house counsel, requesting human intervention.
Intraspexion is programmed to analyze employee e-mails only for potential employee discrimination suits, simply because those suits are among the most common. But Brestoff said he can easily rework his code to do the same kind of monitoring for breach-of-contact suits, fraud suits and more than 150 other categories of lawsuits that businesses must dodge every day.
Joe Dysart is an internet speaker and business consultant based in New York. Voice: (646) 233-4089. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Web: www.joedysart.com.