First, the online grocery and clothing seller had to lay the groundwork for machine learning techniques to be brought into the organisation, and this meant getting its data lake in order so that near to real-time data could be used by the developers and data scientists within the company.
Speaking at the AI Summit in London recently, Tesco group CTO Edmond Mesrobian spoke about the importance of creating a data loop where "everything knowable is captured and then we can reason about it and build models. Take those models and reflect them back into the business, whether that's a colleague or a customer, to make better decisions." He says that Tesco has been working on this for a year and a half and is now starting to see the benefits.
While Mesrobian recognises that online retailers like Amazon have been doing this since day one, with recommendation engines and warehouse optimisation, retailers like Tesco are still reliant on their physical stores, so have to try and blend data from the physical and online world. "We want to represent all of Tesco, be that through fulfillment, delivery, retail, online. So it needs to be connected intelligence," Mesrobian said.
This desire to bring AI-powered products to market quicker at Tesco was the driving force behind an open source project called Mewbase, which was announced in February.
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