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Effectively Using Artificial Intelligence in Data Management: Unlocking Efficiency and Quality

Distributors are adopting a data-first approach, layering in AI for added wins like reducing excess inventory by 20% and increasing sales by 15%.

April 04, 2024

In today's data-driven world, effective data management is crucial for organizations to thrive. The ability to harness data efficiently, make informed decisions, and maintain data quality directly impacts the success of businesses, regardless of industry or size. 

Epicor recently commissioned Modern Distribution Management (MDM) to conduct a study to better understand the present-day role of artificial intelligence (AI) in data management. 

MDM surveyed over 200 decision-maker distributors across a range of industries and with varying levels of data maturity to determine how advanced businesses are now in their quest to become data-driven, and the role AI will play in future planning and growth. Here’s what their research uncovered.  

The AI Advantage in Data Management

AI plays a pivotal role in data management practices, enabling distributors to navigate the complexities of data with precision and agility.

  • Automated Data Cleansing and Enrichment: AI algorithms can automatically identify and rectify inconsistencies, errors, and duplicates within datasets. By cleansing and enriching data, distributors help ensure accuracy and reliability, leading to better decision-making.
  • Predictive Analytics for Demand Forecasting: AI models analyze historical data, market trends, and external factors to predict future demand. Distributors can optimize inventory levels, reduce stockouts, and enhance supply chain efficiency.
  • Personalized Customer Experiences: AI-driven recommendation engines analyze customer behavior, preferences, and purchase history. Distributors can tailor marketing campaigns, product recommendations, and pricing strategies to individual customers.
  • Efficient Inventory Management: AI algorithms optimize inventory levels, considering factors like seasonality, lead times, and demand fluctuations. Distributors can minimize carrying costs while helping ensure product availability.
  • Automated Data Governance and Compliance: AI monitors data quality, privacy, and compliance with regulations. It identifies anomalies, flags potential risks, and enables adherence to data protection laws.

Challenges and Considerations 

Maturing as a data-driven distributor won’t come without challenges—or things to consider—as they embark on this journey. The study’s findings identified clear patterns distributors are focused on as they pursue their data ambitions.

  • Data Privacy and Security: Distributors must balance data utilization with privacy concerns. AI models should comply with regulations like GDPR and CCPA.
  • Data Integration and Interoperability: Integrating data from various sources (ERP systems, CRM, eCommerce platforms) is complex. AI solutions should seamlessly work across diverse datasets.
  • Change Management and Skill Development: Distributors need to upskill employees to leverage AI effectively. Change management strategies are essential to drive adoption.

Real-World Success Stories

In addition to our comprehensive survey, in-depth interviews were conducted with distribution executives to understand their insights—and successes—from their respective data transformations.

  • Inventory Optimization: AI-driven demand forecasting reduced excess inventory by 20%, resulting in cost savings and improved customer satisfaction.
  • Customer Segmentation: AI identified distinct customer segments based on purchasing behavior. Personalized marketing campaigns led to a 15% increase in sales.
  • Supplier Performance Monitoring: AI algorithms monitored supplier data, identifying underperforming vendors. This proactive approach improved supply chain resilience.

Don’t Embark on Your Journey Alone

At Epicor, our data-first strategy is here to help you navigate the challenges—and reap the rewards—on your road to AI. Contact us to learn more about how our solutions can help you leverage data and unlock the full potential of AI.