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AI and business intelligenceIn last week’s article, we discussed some of the potentials for the Dark Side to corrupt AI and ML. This week, we’re taking a look at one of the most prominent practical applications of the Light Side of AI: business analytics and intelligence.

Organizations have had the ability to gather large amounts of data for some time now. It’s not getting data that’s the challenge, but rather making use of it. This is where AI and ML are already beginning to shine.

A perfect example of this is Microsoft Cortana Intelligence. Microsoft’s chief AI play, Cortana is comprised of over a dozen solutions designed to make big data actionable. The abilities of Cortana are best demonstrated through case studies.

AI and business intelligence for the restaurant business

Take Ziosk. Used in over 1,400 restaurants throughout the US, you may have already seen a Ziosk-enabled tablet (source). These tablets let users play games, view menu items, order food, watch the news, and pay for their meals. Ziosk also allows users to call waiters, as well as rate food and service.

As you can imagine, the resulting data is invaluable. Understanding how a person’s choice of game, news, and food choice go together opens up a breadth of marketing options. To quote Kevin Mowry, Chief Software Architect at Ziosk, “Our challenge is to understand what drives guest behavior and use that insight to give guests more of what they want, when they want it. (source)”

But to call the wealth of data “big” is an understatement. Previously, getting actionable reports on the data gathered took weeks. In an industry in which managers need to optimize customer experiences in real-time, this is unacceptable.

To serve up predictive analytics in real-time, Ziosk uses SQL Server for data collection, and HDInsight to analyze it. Azure Machine Learning takes data and examines it for causal relationships. All of this is displayed in an intuitive, easy-to-digest manner through Power BI’s customizable dashboards.

Better beer: a manifestation of the Light Side if ever there was one

As if this wasn’t enough, Cortana Intelligence Suite is even helping make beer better. Deschutes Brewery, the seventh-largest craft brewery in the United States, used Cortana to shave 48 hours off each batch of beer brewed. By collecting information such as temperature, flow rate, and device state from vessels, and sending it to Cortana Machine Learning for predictive analysis, production operators can view—through Power BI—when to transition any of their 8 brands of beer from one phase of brewing to the next. The ability to optimize brewing times saved Deschutes millions (source).

These are just some of the ways in which organizations are using AI and business intelligence today to transform their businesses with data. But just as Darth Vader notoriously informed Luke that he didn’t know the power of the Dark Side of the Force, many organizations are unaware of the hidden costs associated with running upward of 10 Cortana applications in the cloud. Just like you need your data to be accessible and intuitive, you will need to understand your cloud usage to stay on top of costs, not to mention maintaining regulatory compliance.

How Hanu works with AI and business intelligence

Hanu leverages Microsoft’s AI and business intelligence suite internally for our own tools and applications, such as HanuInsight. HanuInsight is used to analyze Microsoft Azure cloud metrics, identify potential areas for optimization of resources, and provide intelligent reporting via Power BI. Click here to download HanuInsight from the Azure Marketplace.

Hanu is also working with several large customers—particularly in the areas of consumer goods—to optimize their supply chains. The team at Hanu does this by gathering market & end-user data to make purchasing predictions for manufacturing and supply needs by product, geography, seasons, and various other criteria.

To learn more about how the Azure Rock Stars are helping companies leverage AI and ML while staying on the Light Side of the Force, contact us today.