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Innovation

Generative AI in commerce: 5 ways industries are changing how they do business

Generative AI can assist commerce-based organizations in several impactful ways. A business report highlights five key examples.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Editor
Shopping carts in a trend line up
Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to transform how different industries operate. To emphasize the positive effects that AI could have on operations, Mastercard released its "Signals" report on the shape of commerce in the age of generative AI. 

Generative technology, such as ChatGPT, can transform commerce in a range of ways, including knowledge distribution, HR and training, code writing, legal, cybersecurity, treasury, marketing, customer interfaces, and service delivery, according to the report. 

This wide applicability means companies are starting to adopt AI at higher rates than they have in the past, with the report stating that 50% of companies used AI for at least one application in 2022 compared to just 20% in 2017. 

"Over the next two to three years, generative AI will power hundreds of capabilities across business and consumer applications," said Mastercard. 

Also: What is Amazon Bedrock? 4 ways it can help businesses use generative AI tools

The company identifies five areas of commerce that could benefit from the use of AI and presents possible use cases for AI in each industry. Here are the highlights of the report. 

1. How AI is changing enterprise

AI can help enterprises by distributing company knowledge and insights across organizations in real time, regardless of size and scale. 

Knowledge sharing is often a challenge for organizations, especially larger ones, because there is so much content and information that needs to be communicated across the lines of business, and finding an efficient way to do so is difficult. 

Also: Can AI code? In baby steps only

The report suggests replacing traditional enterprise search engines, which can be overwhelming to use due to their vast resources, with a generative AI search engine. This engine would allow employees to find the exact answer with just one prompt. 

Generative AI can be a medium that helps bring large quantities of content to employees in a digestible and fast way. Imagine a chatbot that could give you access to all of your company's resources, including training content, internal communications, reports, and more. Consulting firms such as BCG, EY, KPMG, Accenture, and McKinsey already have projects of that nature underway. 

2. How AI is changing finance

Whether you work in finance or have interacted with finance operations, you know that the financial ecosystem includes many obstacles that can make the execution of tasks difficult to complete. 

The finance industry could use generative AI's quantitative abilities to simplify complex tasks, such as wealth management. 

The report outlines how generative AI can streamline and declutter key processes, including interacting with banks, insurance companies, and other institutions by acting as a personal wealth manager.

Another example of the potential impact of generative technology is an AI conversational engine that could help a user formulate a college savings plan, procure loans, and complete other financial tasks for users who may need assistance, according to the report. 

These kinds of tools could help level the playing field for people who don't have access to financial services and could then benefit from AI's personalized recommendations. 

Also: AI, trust, and data security are key issues for finance firms

With the proper data protections, generative AI can even be directly integrated into bank accounts, investment portfolios, and more, so the technology provides an all-encompassing view of an individual's financial life.

3. How AI is changing small businesses

A major challenge that small businesses face is a lack of resources. Nearly every step of a business's operation involves some cost, whether it's labor, time, or equipment. AI can double as an on-demand worker who is always prepared to assist and help with time-intensive tasks. 

For example, AI can help a small business owner develop and deploy a social media strategy, a task that would have likely fallen down the priority list for an owner who lacks time and resources. 

Also: Why companies must use AI to think differently, and not simply to cut costs

AI can also help small business owners perform tasks in areas they lack expertise or where they want to learn more. For example, someone who has never built an app or created a product could turn to AI for instructions on what to do. AI could even provide in assistance carrying out the task itself.  

4. How AI is changing retail

Electronic commerce has come a long way since its birth in the 1990s. Today, you can find almost every product you can think of and many different variations of it online. 

Yet there are so many online shopping options you can use that finding products can sometimes become an overwhelming process for users. Customers can struggle to find what they are looking for and businesses can lose out on potential transactions. 

AI can help reduce this strain by acting as a personal shopper for users. An AI-powered, personal-shopping consultant can assist users and help them find precisely what they need, while connecting them to retail offers they might have otherwise missed. 

Also: Machine learning helps this company deliver a better online shopping experience

ShopifyGoogle, Microsoft, and Amazon are examples of companies that have either deployed or are working on such integrations. 

5. How AI is changing travel

Just as AI can boost retail processes, AI can connect prospective travelers with all the resources they need to book their getaway.

AlsoHow to use ChatGPT to plan a vacation

AI could double as a travel agent, helping travelers make educated trip-planning decisions. This tool would help users connect more easily to the resources they need. AI could also help travel companies, such as airlines and hotels, to make transactions. Travel platforms are already working on developing this type of AI-enabled experience for customers. 

Bottom line: Get ready for more change

Generative AI will transform commerce. While we're only seeing the first impact of this AI-enabled revolution, it's already clear that the interaction between companies and their customers is set to change forever during this decade and beyond.

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