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What Do Walgreens and the Cleveland Cavaliers Have in Common? They're Leading the Way in AI

Artificial intelligence technologies raised $33 billion in equity funding last year.

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Since the dawn of , companies have competed with each other by developing solutions that are bigger, better, faster and cheaper. The same can certainly be said when it comes to software development and its role as a key differentiator. But it has never just been about technology. It has also been about marketing a company's to ensure investor interest, as well as customer loyalty, and demand. AI has taken this tested, tried-and-true dual-pronged strategy — of offering competitive differentiation and the ability to market innovation further than ever before — from fixing problems to adding new, exciting capabilities.

As the name implies, AI simulates intelligence, constantly evolving and always learning. Envision a company with a resource that can analyze enormous amounts of data around the clock without taking a break. Think about the edge this company has with the ability to assess the competitive landscape, extract valuable intelligence and implement new practices based on the recommendations provided by prescriptive AI.

Related: 5 Ways AI Technology is Making Our Buildings Smarter

AI is not simply a set of statements telling a computer what to do. It is a level of cognitive understanding that is brought to a dataset or computation. With AI, there is no ceiling to learning. As companies bring these intelligent tools and applications to bear, they are seeing the potential that intelligent automations can unlock.

AI is a must-have strategy for product development and marketing

According to CB Insights, AI companies raised a record $33 billion in equity funding in 2020. As commercial applications of AI scale rapidly, businesses want to become "AI-first." This manifests in upgrading existing data and IT infrastructure as well as in applying AI as a competitive advantage to products and services. And these companies are making it a priority to ensure their customers and investors know it.

Although it might be assumed that only high-tech industries use AI, that is not the case. Any industry that produces and collects large amounts of data has the potential to use AI.

For instance, Walgreens combines geographical location data and demographic data with AI to track the spread of influenza, helping ensure medication inventory is stocked accordingly in the stores that need it most. This application has helped the pharmacy chain secure its reputation for being a trusted partner and a source of accurate information.

Related: AI Gives Outdated Industries a Makeover

The Cleveland Cavaliers are also using AI-powered crowd intelligence software to bring their fans safely back to Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. AI-powered software from Armored Things* is enabling Cleveland's facilities and security teams to analyze data using existing security systems to have an accurate, real-time understanding of how many people are gathering and moving about and when and where these movements are happening.

These insights are sent to the venue's command center and via mobile devices to staff who can be alerted regarding potential congestion. AI is helping provide the insights needed so staff can make informed decisions that ensure optimal fan and staff safety in addition to providing an enjoyable experience. The Cavaliers and their arena can reopen because they applied AI technology, and they can, in turn, convey and market the steps they have taken to ensure investors, players and fans are their top priority.

Related: AI Innovations Continue to Revolutionize Healthcare

Economies of scale and increased performance

AI-first companies have a profound advantage because of the scalability and continuous learning of intelligent products and business applications. Companies that invest in harnessing the right data, infrastructure and training models today will benefit from economies of scale with increased performance.

With companies employing technology as a competitive advantage, those that are not leveraging some form of machine learning or AI are putting themselves at a disadvantage. As we see AI being deployed in countless verticals and use cases, companies that are not harnessing intelligence risk their products or offerings becoming obsolete. There is no use trying to ignore the inevitable. Now is the time for companies to assess how AI can deliver a competitive advantage to their products and operations — before it's too late.

*Armored Things is a Glasswing Ventures portfolio company.

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